'Love Is Strange' a portrait of the harsh reality of life
Here's a movie filled with the joy and sadness, the frustrations and pleasures of real life, rendered in a fashion that is at once intensely dramatic and utterly convincing.
Filmmaker Ira Sachs demonstrates a pinpoint understanding of the way long-term relationships work in his intimate portrait of Manhattan couple Ben (Jon Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), who have been together for nearly 40 years and face a crisis when their marriage leads to George being fired from the Catholic school that employs him.
Sachs, who co-wrote the "Love is Strange" screenplay with Mauricio Zacharias, stresses the small moments that paint an overarching picture of two people struggling to adjust to a new reality. He benefits greatly from the career-highlight work provided by his leads, who so comfortably inhabit these rich, warmhearted individuals.
Lithgow and Molina pour such genuine feeling into their portrayals, without a single false touch, that the movie leaves you with the sense that you've experienced the entirety of the characters' lives in miniature over the course of about 90 minutes.
The supporting characters, played by Marisa Tomei among others, enhance the movie's authentic depiction of love across the generations, as well as its innate understanding of the fact that crises play out quietly in the real world. The movie directly engages with the harsh economic realities of New York City life but it's tinged with great affection, too, infused with the inextricable link between this city and the people who call it home.