Halfway through 2015 and I am still scanning through a list of films from 2014 that I might have missed. Friday nights are better spent dodging phone calls, text messages and emails as I began to unwind for busy yet lazy weekend ahead. I scanned through a list of films I had written on my notebook and my eyes caught a title that was too cliché: Love is Strange. Indeed, love is strange. I began searching for a copy and ended up at the right place within few minutes. Thanks Google! Without any background information about Love is Strange I hit the play icon.
The screen lit up brightly with a scene of two pair of feet resting upon each other filled with preludes of Chopin. Ben, late 70s, is in bed awake, lying next to Ben is George, early 70s, still asleep. Our bodies get very intimate once we are in bed with someone we love. Sweat dripping every morning when you wake up beside your loved ones and hope you never leave their side. Ben and George, two aging New Yorkers decide finally to tie the knot in Manhattan. Nearly 40 years together and full of joy, Ben and George prepare themselves and as they walk to their wedding destination in Lower Manhattan, Ben lags behind and has to catch up. Within the first few minutes of the film, we expect a subtle hint of what’s coming our way: detachment.
George, a music teacher, at a private Catholic school loses his job once the administration discovers he married a man. The administration, the parents and the children knew he was gay and living with Ben. Struggling to pay rent; George and Ben call their close ones to discuss some potential places to crash till they find an affordable housing in Manhattan. Ben lives with his nephew, sharing a bunk-bed with his grandson and George with two gay party-loving police men that live in the same building. As they settle into their new homes, Ben, on the phone with George on the other line, says, “No, they’re very nice, but sometimes when you live with people, you know them better than you care to - that’s all.”
The dialogue stroked a chord with me. I had to stop the film and think. I’ve been afraid to ask a friend or family member to sleep over for more than few months or a day/week if I was in Ben and George’s situation. When we intrude and abolish their time, priorities, and routine we are left with no options, but to think that they can tolerate us for another minute. Our lives are impeccably gray and Love is Strange breakdowns the mechanism of modern relationships, diving deep into our careers we forget about the elderly thriving to survive and capable of attachments.
Love is Strange is one of the biggest surprise of 2014, and I’m glad to have seen this after the SCOTUS decision. Love is Strange is directed by Ira Sachs. Sachs, a gay man himself, has immense love for New York and uses real life locations to tell a wonderful story of two lovers in a lonely city. This film stars Alfred Molina, John Lithgow, and Marisa Tomei. Cinematography is by Christos Voudouris.
As I end this note, I want take this moment and thank Oliver Sacks for writing wonderful essays on New York Times I would re-read them every time I had a chance. He leaves us with his brilliant mind for all of us to soak in. Thank you for all your contribution, Mr. Sacks!