Movie review: "Love Is Strange" a beautifully understated gay marriage story

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I know there’s a huge component of escapism inherent in moviegoing, but sometimes a little movie comes along that’s so achingly authentic it feels real. No, not “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I’m talking about “Love Is Strange.”

We begin with the wedding of Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), a Manhattan couple who have spent almost four decades together. But when news of their commitment reaches George’s employer, he loses his job as a music instructor at a parochial school.

This interruption of income combined with the fiercely competitive New York City rental market leaves Ben and George separating to stay with friends until they can find an affordable place.

There’s obviously a gay marriage at the heart of “Love Is Strange,” but it’s more love story than an LGBTQ activism movie. And that’s part of what makes it resonate, along with some truly superlative performances.

The fact that the movie is about a more everyday occurrence — being displaced from one’s home rather than, say, a rare chronic illness — makes the bond between Ben and George feel more real. Both leads give warm and understated performances, earnest and realistic. They have great support, especially from Marisa Tomei as an in-law who opens her home to Ben.

Director/co-writer Ira Sachs does undercut a lot of what I loved here with a hankie-wringing ending that borders on Hallmark, but there’s far too much to like to dock too many points. Plus, it does get the tears flowing.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

"Love Is Strange"

Opens Friday

3 stars out of 4