The touching, tender and timely story, LOVE IS STRANGE, got rated R. We meet a gay male couple in New York City forced to find a new place to live when one loses his job in a city stricken with wildly escalating rents and housing prices. This happens after Ben and George gather some family and friends together for their wedding. Alfred Molina (George) and John Lithgow (Ben) are very much in love. And they've been together for 39 years.
We're in a Recession. George and Ben are an older couple. Now they need a place to live while George hunts for a new job and while they sell their apartment for income. They must separate and each live with different relatives or friends until they can get their own place again. Some situations provide nice light comedy. Others break your heart. You care about George and Ben so much due to the extraordinary acting from Lithgow and Molina. They truly seem like a couple that's been together happily for nearly 40 years. These two loving individuals have grown into one unit over the years and to see them endure the separation, to see them work around it and remain a couple shows you that the title is accurate -- love is strange. And powerful.
George lives with two young cops -- another gay male couple. Ben lives with his nephew, a straight married family man. His novelist wife, played by Marisa Tomei, gave a gushy and long toast (in which she reminds all that she's a novelist) at George and Ben's wedding reception. She's not exactly gushy about having Ben live with them. She's not mean. She just likes the same predictable home life -- a daily life that's like a beige piece of linen. Something that doesn't wrinkle. Ben is sweetly chatty and has a healthy appetite. Ben's nephew has no problem with this. The novelist wife sees Ben as a wrinkle, an inconvenience. Yet she is younger. She and her husband have their jobs and their own place. As a novelist, she's blind to seeing the experience as inspiration, a window into a human condition that could illuminate her future writing.
If, last month, Love Is Strange had brought John Lithgow his third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, I'd have cheered. I would not been alone. If it had brought Alfred Molina his first Oscar nomination, I'd have shouted "It's about time!" He's never been an Oscar nominee. That's hard to believe when you've seen his work as the under-appreciated partner to a sexually and artistically popular young British playwright in Prick Up Your Ears (1987), as Diego opposite Salma Hayek in the Frida Kahlo biopic, Frida (2002) and as the father to Carey Mulligan's character in An Education (2009).
I saw this on the big screen last year when critics loved the movie and hated the rating it got. I loved the movie too. I saw it again last weekend on DVD. It touched me even more. I shed a few tears thinking of much I still miss my late partner. Love Is Strange director and writer, Ira Sachs, gave us a fine piece of work, free of stereotypes and full of heart. If you're a classic film fan, Love Is Strange has echoes of Leo McCarey's 1937 masterpiece, Make Way For Tomorrow. In that, an older couple is broke. Husband and wife lose their home. None of their five adult kids, who are comfortable, will take them in together. Mom and Dad must separate and live with a child while senior Dad attempts to re-enter the workforce. It's also on DVD.