Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, February 01, 2024

All of Us Strangers…

All of Us Strangers

Short review: 
Its great, go and see it. Brilliant performances, clever concept, highly emotional.  In fact, its an emotional fantasy film (if there is such a genre). Two hot leads too. 
Ok, much longer review:
Where to begin? Theres so much to unpack. 
The film is about coming out, grief, loss, shame, pride, and loneliness. 
I imagine these topics dont seem like they would make for a fun day out at the cinema but they do. Largely because were in the hands of such talented creatives; director Andrew Haigh and fantastic actors, Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy. 
Things take their time in this film. The pathos is palpable. It almost needs its own acting credit. 
Andrew Scott plays Adam, a man who is coming to terms with his loneliness, with his sexuality and eventually, 30 years too late perhaps, the sudden death of his parents. 
He lives in a high-rise building alone, but as a script writer he creates worlds on the page. 
And in one of these worlds he goes to visit his parents, at the age they were when they died 30 years ago. The same age he is now. 
His main reason seems to be to come out to them and its an effective trick both for him and for us as audience members. 
What would any of us say to our parents if we were the same age as them? Would we tell them theyre good parents? Would we tell them where they were going wrong? Would we say they shouldve helped us more? Would we fancy them? Would we understand them? Would we feel like children again?
As a gay man watching a character come out to his parents on screen I found it triggering. It inevitably brought back memories of difficult conversations of my own past and they were just as raw.
As a member of the LGBT+ community I have to come out constantly, sometimes multiple times a day. And I dont think Im overstepping the mark by saying it can be a fearful experience at times. Often it brings back all of those memories of the first time you did it and that fear of rejection. You fight against it. But the fear is there. 
The first time you come out is maybe to a friend, or another family member. But you certainly never forget the time that you come out to your parents. It might go well. It might not. But you never forget it. 
I mean obviously you hope they will take it well and from what I understand in more recent times parents do in general take it better than perhaps they did in my day.
In this film Adams mother played by Claire Foy doesnt take it particularly well and just asks embarrassing questions about children and why did you choose this life of unhappiness?  She also says that thing that people think is kind. Is nice. Will help.
You dont look gay.   
What?! What?! I cant tell how offensive I find that comment personally. I know it comes from a place of love, but my goodness there were fewer comments that say dont be proud of yourself” and that. You dont look gayYou dont look like one of them.” Aaaargh!!!
Thankfully Adams father played by Jamie Bell seems to take it all somewhat better. 
My own experience of coming out was a little bit different to Adams however. My mother was in tears when I told her and found it very hard to take. Mid-AIDS crisis made things tougher Im sure. Why did you choose this?” “Youre going to be unhappy” “Youre going to die.” “Youll have to use different knives and forks to us.” etc. 
My father was just angry. Why was I upsetting the family? Why have I made this choice? Yes, things changed for us all over the years but those initial reactions are burned into my memory. 
So watching Adam, come out to his parents had me in tears. A lot of red-hot tears. 
But dont let me imply this film is only about coming out - although it is a large part of the drama. 
Adam also creates another world for himself. He is actually not alone in his sky-rise after all. Theres another man, sexy hunk Harry, played by sexy hunk Paul Mescal.  Harry takes a bit of a shine to Adam and despite being initially rebuffed things seem to progress towards a more intimate relationship between the two. 
When they both go to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and dance together and take drugs and its utterly wonderful. Their tentative relationship, confessions of their own loneliness, and eventually falling in love is a joy. 
I wont spoil the ending or give you any hints of twists but the ending is as powerful as almost everything Ive seen on the big screen. Tears again Im afraid. 
I feel rung out by the film to be honest - but not in a bad way. Its just made me think long and hard about my own coming out story, my own relationships with my parents, and indeed about myself. 
And you dont normally get that in Cineworld on a cold Tuesday afternoon in Nottingham!

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