LOVE IS STRANGE – Rated R

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Ira Sachs travels down a less traveled road of love and loss – writing and directing a film about a 39 year love affair between two gay men – with his latest film – LOVE IS STRANGE.

Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) have enjoyed one another’s company for close to 40 years.  Wanting to share their love for one another with the world, Ben and George decide to make their union legal in the eyes of everyone, including the law.

Blindsided by his dismissal from teaching music since the catholic school he teaches at does not approve of his marriage, George is trying to make things work on his minimal compensation and the pittance that Ben makes as an artist.  Forced to move from their apartment so they can sell it to survive, Ben and George are now forced to move in with family and friends until they can secure a new place they can afford.

Tempers begin to run high as Ben is staying with his nephew Elliott (Darren E Burrows), his wife Kate (Marisa Thomei)and their son Joey (Charlie Tahan), which barely have enough room for themselves in their tiny apartment, much less Uncle Ben.  George is now staying with their gay neighbors – policeman Ted (Cheyenne Jackson) and Roberto ( Manny Perez), and things aren’t boding well for poor George either – as the late night parties and people always coming and going is taking its toll on him too.

To remove some of the stress they are all under, Kate suggests that Ben take up painting again, giving him something constructive to do, so he is out of her way as she tries to write her next novel.  This seems to work until Ben decides to use Joey’s friend Vlad (Eric Tabach) as his muse, making Joey furious.  George is attempting to find a job, and trying to make the most of the night life he is subjected to, when a chance encounter with an acquaintance of Ted’s seems to be just the ticket, as this individual just secured a new position out of the country, which makes the his apartment available for rent – SWEET!!!

Ben seems mildly jealous when George explains how he found this new apartment for them, but must concentrate his efforts on more important things, like getting his broken arm to heal from a spill he took down a flight of stairs a few days ago.

Will George and Ben be able to live the lives they have always dreamed of as a married couple?  Will George be able to find work so that he can provide for him and Ben like they have planned for so many years?  Or will Ben succumb to his aging body before their “Fairy Tale” even begins?

I give LOVE IS STRANGE a B:  I thoroughly enjoyed this endearing story of passion, love and enduring what God, or this cynical world places before us.  Sachs did a fantastic job directing Lithgow and Molina, as these two mature actors were superb in their roles, as you feel the love, the pain and the sheer joy that these two men feel for one another, every step of the way.  It was great to see Thomei on the big screen again too….as I have missed the seemingly effortless way she plays out each and every role she is given.  Make no mistake, you will come to enjoy each and every frame of this love story, as it brings to light the importance of having people who love us in our lives – whether friends, family or your significant other, and regardless if you are gay or straight, the magnitude that finding that ONE TRUE LOVE, plays in each and every one of our lives.

Kathy Kaiser