Quick Review : Love is Strange (2014)

IMDB Score –
Rotten Tomato Score – 94%

Directed By – Ira Sachs
Starring – John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marissa Tomei, Charlie Tahan, Darren E. Burrows, Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez, and Chrstina Kirk

After Ben and George get married, George is fired from his teaching post, forcing them to stay with friends separately while they sell their place and look for cheaper housing — a situation that weighs heavily on all involved.

Today is Easter, and while I’m waiting for a succulent ham to enter my mouth, I’ve got a few words to say about this cute little movie. That’s right, it’s cute. I don’t care.

Love Is Strange is a little indie film from last year from writer/director Ira Sachs. The film features Lithgow and Molina as longtime partners who get married and immediately have their lives uprooted after the marriage. Molina works at a church as a music instructor and gets fired after the church finds out about the marriage, even though they knew of the relationship. This cause them to lose their apartment and have to spend time apart as they stay at their respected family members houses. The distance apart, and the drama at their temporary places of residence tests their love for each other in different ways.

I really liked this. Like I said before, it’s cute. That isn’t to say it’s a bunch of roses and happy endings. The film deals heavily on family, personal art and dreams, and age. Lithgow and Molina at first don’t have much chemistry, but as the film continues, their bond is very apparent. Both actors portray their characters with class and realism instead of stereotypical mannerisms that an older gay man may posses. Think the opposite of Christopher Plummer’s character in “Beginners”. I liked this better. It’s a subtle film that doesn’t put too much on the fact that they are gay, even though it’s basically the whole reason the film exists. The background story dealing with the family of Marissa Tomei’s character was a bit frustrating. The mother, played by Tomei, is a self centered bitch that farts out nice toasts about her uncle, played by Lithgow, and then seems to be annoyed by his existence when he has to stay at their place. The father is always absent or a ghost when present, and the son is a little shit, but young enough to get away with it. Their story is almost as important as the relationship between the two leads. It just pissed me off how much I hated them, especially the mother.

The film is well shot. I’ve been trying to find a still of one of the last scenes of the film were Ben and George are leaving a bar late at night. The streets are empty in what I presume to be the east village in NYC. They live on opposite ends of the city so at an intersection, one goes one way and the other another. The shot is stagnant and pretty as hell. I’ll try to find it and stick in in here. That being said, it’s a wonderfully made film.

It’s totally worth your attention. It’s a small, subtle, and ultimately heartbreaking film about love and what it all entails. Molina and Lithgow are fantastic in it and it’s pretty to look at.


Film Review : Laurence Anyways (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 81%

Directed By – Xavier Dolan
Starring – Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément, Nathalie Baye, Monia Chokri, Magalie Lépine Blondeau, and Emmanuel Schwartz

A drama that charts ten years in the relationship of a male-to-female transsexual’s relationship with her lover.

I’m almost at the end of my attempt to see as many films from 2013 as I can before 2014 really gets into gear. I crossed another film off my list when I sat down to watch “Laurence Anyways”, the new film from the young french director, Xavier Dolan. I say he’s young because the kid is only a couple months older than me, which is bitter sweet because he made a gorgeous film and I’m sitting at home on my computer writing about it. Don’t worry, this won’t turn into a self loathing post, but it is to be noted that I believe I am a huge failure.

Laurence Anyways is a film about rediscovering the true self and also trying to keep the ones you love close as you go through the process. It’s a gorgeous film. This is really the highlight of the film for me. Colorful slow motion scenes litter the film giving the long run time (nearly three hours) life as we are taken through the ten year relationship between Laurence and Frederique, or Fred for short. Laurence has just decided after two years with Fred, that he was supposed to be born a woman and that he is going to start living the way he naturally feels. Disturbed at first, Fred learns to deal with this transformation, but for how long? I usually don’t go for films of this nature, not because of any ideal issues or bigotry, but rather just an avoidance from the drama that usually accompanies such films. This film however kept my attention the entire time. There were issues but also some very enjoyable features.

I mentioned the visuals already. Each shot was perfectly constructed and meticulously framed. You ideally pause the movie at any time and find a shot worthy of a poster. Dolan is young and incredibly talented. I’m really looking forward to what he does next. The acting was also fantastic with Suzanne Clément really shining in every moment. She was explosive in some scenes while staying subtle and tragic in others. Poupaud had a quieter performance but completely sold that fact that his character was trying to change his body and life. The only thing that I didn’t like about the film was the disjointed narrative towards the end of the film. The first half of the film takes place during the beginning of their relationship with the second half trying to cover nearly eight years. It seemed rushed and forced and didn’t have the same natural flow as the first half of the film did. It ended up ruining what could have been a very very good film. I expect Dolan to learn from this and he is also a very talented writer. Hopefully he learns how to progress the narrative of his characters better because I was very interested in what had happened in the nooks and crannies of those eight years.

Overall the film was very enjoyable. I’m a sucker for the french language so watching this for nearly hours didn’t phase me at all. It’s one of the prettiest films of the year with real moments of passion and emotion delivered by fantastic acting, mainly from Suzanne Clément. It was well worth the watch.