In this pointed and involving New York drama, the snap of realistic dialogue more than makes up for a fundamental flaw in the premise. It helps to have first-rate actors like John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in the focal roles, and filmmaker Ira Sachs has a wonderful eye for earthy rhythms of human interaction that continually reveal deeper truths everyone can identify with. So the way the film explores a long-term relationship is revelatory and important.
The film opens as Ben and George (Lithgow and Molina) finally get legally married after 39 years together. But when they return from their honeymoon, their happiness hits a bump: George is sacked from his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school because he's now considered openly gay. Unable to afford their mortgage, they sell their flat and take a huge loss due to fees. So now they are forced to live separately: Ben moves in with his workaholic nephew Elliot (Darren E. Burrows) and his wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), sharing a bunk bed with their surly teen son Joey (Charlie Tahan). Meanwhile, George takes the sofa of noisy party-boy neighbours Ted and Roberto (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez). Neither situation is remotely ideal, but they try to make it work, knowing that it's temporary.
The problem is that none of this is actually necessary. They had much better options than this, so the continuing messiness feels like it could have been very easily avoided simply by making a few rational decisions rather than be pushed in one direction by an undercooked screenplay. On the other hand, the actors are more than up to the challenge, finding the most meaningful angles within every scene. Sachs gives his cast the space to bring these likeable people to life. Lithgow is terrific as the chatty Ben, who drives Kate crazy while creating tensions in their family. And Molina is wonderful as the more patient, open-minded George. Their chemistry together is sparky and realistic.
Continue reading: Love Is Strange Review
After living together for 39 years, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are able to get married to one another. As George works as a music teacher for a Catholic school, the news of his same-sex marriage causes him to lose his job, and with Ben receiving a pension, the couple are forced to live off the small amount of money. When they are forced to seek a place to live with their friends and family, they are forced to live separately with different families. In their new life, they discover the true meaning of love and friendship, and teach a little to those around them in the process.
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Ben and George have been together for four years and finally decide to get married. While their matrimony may have touched the hearts of their friends and family, the archdiocese soon hears about it and George is subsequently fired from his job as a teacher at the local catholic school. The pair can't afford to live in the area any longer with only Ben's pensions and George's profits from private piano lessons as income, and so they must sell their apartment and set out on a search for cheaper housing. However, the tough New York housing market means they are forced to stay with their separate families and friends. It's not the most ideal of situations for anyone; George and Ben are struggling to cope with their separation and neither are dealing with their strange new home environments.
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Manny Perez, Yvonne Maria Schaefer and Federico Castelluccio - Manny Perez, Yvonne Maria Schaefer and Federico Castelluccio New York City, USA - New York Premiere of 'La Soga' at Regal Union Square - Arrivals Wednesday 11th August 2010
For the first 15 minutes we're treated to the back story of '80s gangster Wilson Deleon Sr. (Manny Perez), a hard-working, merciful Bronx drug dealer just trying to make his way in this crazy world. He has a child on the way; her shrewd mother, Millie (Wanda De Jesus) has just laundered all his street earnings into a sizeable nest egg. Of course, on the night she tells him to stay in, he goes out and, of course, that's the night she delivers and, of course, that's the night his crew betrays him and two ridiculously buxom assassins gun him down.
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Director Alfredo De Villa is another director who hasn't learned that lesson and his film, Washington Heights, is a stampede of characters and subplots that has no hope of being corralled into a cohesive story.
Continue reading: Washington Heights Review