An elderly gay couple (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) who have been together for 40 years finally tie the knot in a charming little ceremony, surrounded by friends and family in New York. However, George is then fired from his job as a music teacher at a Christian school, despite the fact that everyone has been aware of his sexuality in the past. The loss of George’s income means that the couple are forced to move out of their apartment and must rely on the generosity of their nearest and dearest for a place to live. Ben bunks with his nephew Elliot, Elliot's wife Kate, and their teenage son Joey, while George stays on the sofa of their former neighbours, a younger same-sex couple of two party-loving cops, Roberto and Ted.
Love is Strange is so laidback, it feels as though it could fall right off the screen at times. This should be a furious film about the rights of same-sex couples; a film that rails against the treatment of George by his Catholic school. Instead it is a slice of life drama; one where the characters too easily accept their mistreatment and new predicament and all around them scramble to make their lives bearable. It is an intimate drama rather than a crusade against injustice and if that is what you want, then Love is Strange is a very well acted and touching tribute to love surviving against the odds.
To its credit, Love is Strange is an incredibly refreshing take on homosexual characters. There are none of the clichés that have become so familiar; for example, no one dies of AIDS, no one gets beaten up by homophobes or anything like that. In fact, the real hardships faced by the characters are simply those of being a burden on family and friends. They could happen to anyone, and the only thing that makes this different is that the Catholic school’s response to George getting married is the cause of all their problems.
Writer/director Ira Sachs deliberately avoids melodrama and over sentimentality, but in doing so removes much of what could have been a more emotional and engaging story. Love is Strange feels like a step in the right direction but it should be angrier when life can still be this unfair.
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