Film note: Love Is Strange

Last updated on September 12th, 2019 at 06:33 pm

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I’ll have to watch it again before I make up my mind but right now Ira Sachs‘ affecting depiction of what happens to an older gay couple after they marry in New York City feels like a masterpiece, and not just because it made me bawl.

For one thing, Sachs seems especially attuned to the rhythms of speech and dialogue — and how that constitutes at least part of what we perceive as rapport — and how humans fit into, sometimes uncomfortably, the places they walk through, inhabit and depend upon for their identities and stability. Further, that recognition applies as much to familial and work situations as to physical locations.

So it’s not surprising that, even to an occasional visitor like myself, the setting in Love is Strange is more recognizable, understandable, and lovable as New York than say, your average Woody Allen movie.

Sure, some points in the narrative can be predicted, yet this film allowed me the surprising opportunity to weep at how strong human bonds can be while at the same time reminding me of the practical, material contingencies of human relationships.

How heartbreaking it is to find out some of the limits of those relationships.

The implications of that dynamic evoke personal, political, and aesthetic stakes, taken from within Sachs’ naturalistic mise-en-scène, a shooting style and a shot-length that allows us to regard rather than look past or through the artifacts and rituals of a life or a love.

A great deal of the film’s power comes from witnessing those things and those aspirations disrupted, or left unfinished. And yet people cope and find beauty and connection. From that perspective, a formalist exercise like Boyhood seems dry, cynical, and rather insouciant — not all that in touch with the world.

Finally, has there been a more believable or lovable couple in 2014? Well, has there?

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