When two longtime partners decide to take advantage of the recent changes to the New York state marriage laws and tie the knot, they don’t suspect that same decision to become the catalyst for their ensuing homelessness. This is essentially the premise of Ira Sachs‘ latest movie, Love is Strange, which is opening theatrically this Friday, August 22nd. And like so many people these days, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are living in an economically precarious world. All it takes is for George to lose his music teaching job at a Catholic school, for the two to be forced to sell an apartment they can no longer afford. And since Ben has no income other than social security, the two are forced to separate and temporarily move in with friends and family until they can figure out their next steps.
Unlike the youthful characters that populated Sachs’ last film, Keep the Lights On, the characters in Love is Strange are mostly mature; they’ve lived lives and made careers for themselves, and created many intimate friendships. Ben and George assumed that they were going to live out their remaining years enjoying the fruits of their labor. This makes their predicament all the more painful. Living apart during this period only adds to their stress. Even though they still occupy the same city, they struggle to sustain their connection. One scene especially resonates when George, frustrated to the brink by his circumstances, braves the rain and walks all the way to apartment owned by Ben’s niece and nephew (Marisa Tomei and Darren Burrows) to be with his husband. The two share the bottom of a bunk bed in the room Ben usually shares with his great nephew (Charlie Tahan). In their solitude, cuddling on a bed way too small to comfortably share, the two share a moment of intimacy that only a couple who have shared thousands of days and nights could experience. This, in a nutshell, is the filmmaking of Ira Sachs.
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