Love Is Strange – Movie Review
Love Is Strange – R
Release Date: Thu 02 Oct 2014
Love Is Strange is a perplexing movie that explores two men (John Lithgow’s Ben and Alfred Molina’s George) who become unable to afford their apartment after their wedding causes George to lose his parochial job. Instead of focusing on their efforts to reunite or the difficulties of making their relationship work under the separation, the movie mainly explores the situation Ben finds himself in living with his nephew Elliot (Darren E. Burrows) and Elliot’s wife (Marisa Tomei) and son Joey (Charlie Tahan.)
George is meanwhile living with a younger gay couple who throw near-constant parties that interfere with him being able to actually sleep on their couch. His story does continue as a private music teacher, but it really seems like the background compared to the attention paid to Ben. Ben is an imposition on his nephew’s family. This isn’t immediately clear to him, but he does his best to be supportive and as unobtrusive as he can. Still, in a tiny New York apartment this is nearly impossible.
While the story itself was interesting, it felt strange that the story seemed to take place during great weather in New York and I had trouble understanding why people were so overcrowded. Apart from sleeping, is it really necessary to spend all your waking hours in New York in an apartment?
By the final act, the editing became almost unbearable, with scenes ending with minute-long shots of the background. These were unwarranted and felt like the cliche of the “New York is a character” style of directing, except it was more about letting a musical piece conclude before changing to the next scene. How much elapsed time did the movie show? It’s hard to be sure, but Joey doesn’t seem to grow much older by the end. Is it a month or a year?
I should also point out that as a musician, the amount of fake piano playing in this movie is stunning. It’s a glaring oversight to have a character who is a music teacher and show him obviously not playing the piano. Later he teaches a student and again the camera pans over and shows that her hands are doing nothing similar to what the piano is playing. How does that survive editing?
John M. and I saw it in the theater and has a discussion afterward in the car: