After 39 years together, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally tie the knot. After the wedding, their family and friends gather in the apartment they have shared for nearly all that time to celebrate their union. Soon after, George is fired from his job as a Catholic school music teacher when the diocese finds out about his same-sex marriage. His homosexuality had been an open secret, but making things official crossed some kind of eccelsiastic line. Down his income and living on Ben’s pension they can no longer afford their apartment and have to sell. They throw themselves on the mercy of family and friends while they look for a new place, and wind up separated — one sleeping on his great-nephew’s bunk bed and the other on a friend’s couch.
At the center of Love is Strange is a battle between the juggernauts of beautiful, flawed true love on one side and the hideous, black-hearted New York City real estate market on the other.
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina’s chemistry was thoroughly convincing — they were completely convincing the adorable old couple everyone loves and aspires to be. As their friends and family put up with the inconvenience of hosting them the friction and the sometimes ungracious way it is dealt with were funny and awkward and uncomfortable to watch. This is what it means to love someone — to take them into your life even when you don’t want to.
The difficulty of aging, properly aging and facing your mortality, runs through the film, creating tension, jeopardy and a feeling of nostalgia. Even though Ben and George are moving forward, out of their apartment and into a new one, this is about looking back, about remembering.
Love is Strange isn’t schmaltzy or sucrose, because the love it presents is real and has to battle with self-involvement, pride and most importantly time. I was incredibly moved by this film, by its simplicity, and I wish it had received more attention when it came out.