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Love Is Strange
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Love Is Strange is a touching, beautiful -- if sometimes melancholy -- drama about an older gay couple facing new challenges after they get married and one of them subsequently loses his job. Their relationship is inspiring and their friends and relatives are supportive, but younger teens may not be able to wrap their heads around the couple's real-estate woes and how their displacement in turn displaces everyone else and destabilizes them individually. Expect some discrimination toward the central characters, some social drinking, a little smoking, and strong language, including "s--t" and "f--k." Ben and George are affectionate with each other, kissing and embracing.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Longstanding New York City couple Ben (John Lithgow), an artist, and George (Alfred Molina), a music teacher, finally make it official and get married. It's a lovely life they've knit together over the years, with plenty of friends and relatives who celebrate them. But soon after the ceremony, George is fired from the job he loves at a Catholic school, despite the fact that almost everyone already knew he was gay and has been with Ben for decades. Worried about how they'll make ends meet, Ben and George decide to sell their biggest asset: the downtown apartment they live in and love. Little do they know that a loophole in the terms means they won't net as much as they'd expected and that finding affordable housing in an increasingly wealthy city is nearly as daunting as scaling Everest.
Is it any good?
LOVE IS STRANGE is a poignant, heartfelt, beautifully told story that allows its moments to unwind with quiet certitude. Rather than rely on bombast and operatic tragedy, its melancholy builds as it does in real life: little by little, adding up to a forceful punch in the gut. Many filmmakers don't easily capture the cumulative connectedness and commitment of long-term relationships, but director Ira Sachs does so here, eloquently.
Many of the kudos belong to Lithgow and Molina, who fluently express the steady yet complicated rhythms of a decades-old coupledom. When the two are forced to live apart, bunking with well-meaning friends and family who don't have the space to host them both, their separation feels so wretched -- your heart breaks for them. But you feel for those who help as well, especially Marisa Tomei in a perfectly calibrated turn as the writer wife of Ben's nephew, who cares for Ben but finds her routines upended to distraction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Love Is Strange portrays prejudice and discrimination. What obstacles do Ben and George face? Why? What are audiences meant to take away from watching how they deal with these challenges?
Extended family members play a major role in this film. Do you think their characters -- and their reactions -- are believable/realistic?
What's the movie's take on the lack of affordable housing in New York City? How does it reveal these ideas, and what impact does that situation have?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.