By Darin Skaggs
Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange is certainly about the love in the most basic sense, two people getting married. It also explores all the different kinds of love; the love of parents/children, the love for someone you respect and love of a friend. It also makes an argument in the most subtle of ways for equal rights for everybody.
Love Is Strange stars Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as George and Ben respectively, who have been together for 39 years and finally decide to get married in a small, private ceremony. This causes controversy in George’s place of employment. The Catholic school he teaches choir at is forced to fire him immediately. After that the two realize they cannot live in their apartment of many years and have to live in separate family members apartments while in the process of finding somewhere new to share. This creates more tension in the homes of Ben’s nephew, Elliot played by Darren Burrows joined by his wife Kate played Marisa Tomei and their son Joey played by Charlie Tahan whom Ben is sharing a bunk bed with. George is located with fellow gay couple Ted, played by Cheyenne Jackson, and Roberto, played by Manny Perez who both work as cops.
The whole film is pretty subtle especially the humor in it. Hiring Lithgow and Molina is a good move because they are both pretty well versed in comedy. The subtle hint of humor balances well with the subtle hint of melancholy that the two leads feel, again wonderfully performed by them. Lithgow does really well, but the performance that Molina gives is one of the best of the year, and one of the best in a long time. More than once you will find it hard not to keep your eyes dry, and when the two are together it will be downright impossible.
Now the most subtle and not at all in your face aspect this film is trying to get across is gay marriage, or even just equal rights for everybody. Usually when a gay couple comes out in a movie they tell everyone and all opposed will not shut up about it. In this work the reason he is fired, is not because the man who has to fire him does not like him or is even opposed to his ways, but he has to follow the rules, so George is out of work. It is never mentioned again that they are gay, they are just together. No one complains about that fact, they just complain about how annoying there actual traits are and sometimes how impressive their traits are.
Love is the focus of the film, people are patient when they do not have to be, others find peace where there was none before and some people find love when the tenderness the couple has for each other shines on through. It also shows how difficult love is; fights occur, words are thrown around and judgment calls are made, only about their personality and not about their orientation. Performances are wonderful all around, Molina doing the best, and the film looks as beautiful as the story gives off.