LOVE IS STRANGE
As an older couple prepares for their wedding day, you can see the nervousness exhibited by each of themin their own unique way. One silently turns in circles getting dressed, the other whispers hopes of no meltdowns from the other. They know each other well. As they finally reach their destination, family and friends alike support their words of love, caring, and vows to be there for one another. After the beautiful ceremony, an intimate reception follows where brothers and sisters share personal stories of the couple’s courtship and what it has meant to them. The couple is creative and artistic and the ambiance with piano playing and singing envelopes the guests. It’s a simply wonderful love story taking place in a cozy apartment in NYC.
You might think this is just a typical story, but it’s not. George is a choir teacher at a Catholic school. As he is called into the parish priest’s office, in a matter of moments, George finds himself unemployed and is asked leave immediately. Stunned, he acquiesces after a brief discussion regarding the grounds for his dismissal. The reason is simple. He got married. Does this sound weirdly appalling? How could that happen? You see, this marriage isn’t recognized by the Catholic Church—it’s a gay marriage. Suddenly, Ben who is an older and unemployed artist, and George find themselves with no income and no ability to pay their rent. Together they reach out to family and friends to help them through this tough time as they must give up their apartment.
LOVE IS STRANGE really isn’t so strange. It’s really quite familiar. It’s a story of love and compassion as well as the difficulties in which relationships try to endure. George and Ben find themselves living in separate households in less than ideal conditions. With Ben living with his nephew and his wife and son in a cramped apartment, Ben quickly finds himself to be an imposition. The relationships become strained with this newcomer as he becomes privy to others’ relationship issues. George, living with friends, finds himself pushed to the limit as he attempts to be a gracious guest. The two long for the comfort and familiarity of one another.
Jon Lithgow and Alfred Molina portray a typical couple—not just a gay couple, but a couple. The story truly shows that love is love whether it is between a man and a woman or two men. And there is love, not just romantic love, but love of family and friends. This emotion is pushed to the limits with each of the characters. Tomei’s character is exceptionally strong as she struggles with having this unexpected guest. As a mother she wants to help and to heal, but as a career woman, she longs and needs her space. Balancing this with raising a son who is troubled makes the household even more tense. Tomei brings a true sense of reality to the role of Kate. Charlie Tahan is the troubled son, Joey. His performance is nothing short of sensational. Typical emotions of anger and resentment from a teen are evident, but his depth of feeling toward his Uncle Ben completes the richness of the story. Lithgow and Molina have stellar performances, creating real people who are struggling, yet in love. The depth of each of the characters as they evolve gives you insight to their thoughts and emotions. Anyone can find a character they can identify with in this film. This rare quality enables anyone, straight or gay, young or old, to enjoy and appreciate this film.
“Love Is Strange” is a touching and artistically told story capitalizing upon the creative backgrounds of the two main characters. Music and art are at the heart of the the story giving emotion and depth to an already complex film. The primary story is always overlapping with the secondary stories of relationships between other friends and family members as it delicately intertwines. It is also a moving film with not only a beautiful story, but a stunning vision utilizing cinematic creativity. The orchestral music aptly fits the feeling of the scene, moving the story along, but not before you properly feel the emotion of the moment.
Is love strange? No. But love is everything. It is what motivates and drives us all. When we find love, it gives us a reason to be. The obstacles we encounter and the hurdles we jump in order to maintain and sometimes regain that love is typified in this movie. What truly is strange is how we judge others and the impact these judgements can have. “Love Is Strange” shows us this in a brilliantly creative and thought-provoking way.