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Jeong Park/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Love Is Strange (2014)

In Ira Sachs’s “Love Is Strange,” newlywed longtime companions Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) must separate when their matrimony causes the latter to lose his breadwinning job as a music teacher at a Catholic school.

Ben quickly wears off his welcome at the household of his nephew (Darren Burrows), stay-at-home writer wife (Marisa Tomei) and young son (Charlie Tahan). Meanwhile, George barely puts up with frequent parties thrown by his hosts/former neighbors (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) that prevent him from crashing on their couch.

Indeed, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the film’s arguably most poignant sequence, George gets up and leaves one of those parties and treks through the rain to visit Ben. Upon arrival, George immediately breaks down in tears.

For once, here’s a film more concerned with its gay characters as human beings than as avatars of representation and sociopolitical messaging. It also manages to capture in an authentic way the serendipity of how New Yorkers connect, relate, become homeless, enter a lottery for low-income housing and stumble upon that prized rent-controlled apartment. When held up to this, “Friends” seems like a fairy tale in retrospect.

Its slice-of-life concerns may seem trivial, but “Love Is Strange” is genuinely funny, tender and moving in spots. We come to genuinely care about the plight of this couple — so much that the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival left few eyes dry.

LOVE IS STRANGE

Opens on Aug. 22

Directed by Ira Sachs; written by Mr. Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias; director of photography, Christos Voudouris; edited by Michael Taylor and Affonso Goncalves; production design by Amy Williams; costumes by Arjun Bhasin; produced by Lucas Joaquin, Jay Van Hoy, Jayne Baron Sherman, Lars Knudsen and Mr. Sachs; released by Sony Pictures Classics. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: John Lithgow (Ben), Alfred Molina (George), Marisa Tomei (Kate), Darren Burrows (Elliot), Charlie Tahan (Joey), Cheyenne Jackson (Ted), Manny Perez (Roberto) and Eric Tabach (Vlad).

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