Lithgow and Molina are Ben and George, a painter and music teacher who, after thirty-nine years together, make it official. Marriage brings with it one unexpected consequence, George loses his job at a Catholic school because he has now officially come out of the closet. The sudden reduction in salary forces the pair out of their Co-Op building and home of twenty years. As they look for a new place they’re forced to live separately, coach surfing with relatives until an apartment they can afford comes available.
“Love is Strange” is a simple, beautiful, restrained, funny and moving movie anchored by two astounding performances. Co-writers Ira Sachs (who also directed) and Mauricio Zacharias blend humour, pathos, love and real estate in a story that is driven by the characters, not the plot.
Everything you need to know about Ben and George is conveyed in the simple glances, the unspoken ballet of their day-to-day lives, and Lithgow and Molina are completely convincing as a couple who have shared love and life. On their first night together in ages they’re forced into bunk beds. Inviting George down from the top bunk Ben says, “I have missed having your body next to mine too much to have it denied to me for the reasons of bad engineering.” It’s funny and touching, a testament to the love that permeates the film’s every frame.
Sachs takes his time, lingering on scenes, allowing the performances to revel in the moments that make up the story. It’s a pleasure to spend time with these characters, but be warned, their story packs an emotional wallop.