With a lackluster collection of films opening wide in multiplexes this holiday weekend, it’s time to herald an indie gem. Love is Strange debuted at Sundance in January, and opened to the top per-screen average in select theaters last weekend. It expands slightly today, and critics seem to be near-unanimous that it’s worth seeking out.
Directed by Ira Sachs, the film tells the story of George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow), a gay New York City couple who officially tie the knot after 39 years together. But once their relationship is made legal, George is fired by the Catholic school where he teaches music. Since Ben is a painter with little income, the couple can no longer afford their apartment, and they’re forced to split up and crash with friends and family while they sort things out. George moves downstairs, where he endures life with two boisterous gay cops (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez). Ben gets a bunk at his nephew’s house in Brooklyn, where he can’t help but disrupt the lives of his nephew’s wife (Marisa Tomei) and her household.
Though the film is about a gay couple, it’s not a film with a political agenda. “Sachs takes an impeccably balanced approach to the film,” writes EW’s Joe McGovern. “It’s neither an advertisement for same-sex marriage nor a scold against the Catholic Church. In one scene, George reads a letter he had sent to his students’ parents; his voice-over is matched to a graceful montage of daily life within the school as he says, ‘Life has its obstacles, but I’ve learned early on that they will always be lessened if faced with honesty.’ That’s as close to sermonizing as Sachs gets.”
Read more from EW’s review, as well as a roundup of other notable critics, below. And be ready for Love is Strange when it comes to your neck of the woods. READ FULL STORY