Love Is Strange

Heartfelt drama about love, real estate has some swearing.
  • Review Date: August 19, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Love matters above all and can see us through many difficulties. Communication is key to a great relationship, and commitment is essential to a long-standing one.

Positive role models

George and Ben are a loving couple who work as partners to solve their problems, both financial and logistical. Their friends are well-meaning and caring, even if they're not always sensitive to their housing problems and quality-of-life concerns. 


A teenager yells at his parents out of frustration.


A married couple kisses and hugs tenderly. Some discussion of past infidelities.


Everything from "bloody" to "s--t" to "motherf--ker," but use isn't constant.


Fairly frequent brand sightings and label-dropping, including Apple, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, and Game of Thrones.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking by adults at parties and restaurants. One character smokes.

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

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 22, 2014
DVD release date:January 13, 2015
Cast:Alfred Molina, John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei
Director:Ira Sachs
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of Love Is Strange was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 5, 2014
age 13+

More admirable than actually good.

I knew next to nothing about this movie beside its basic concept and the acclaim that it has garnered. I was happy to see a movie with a gay couple that isn't actually about a gay couple, and there are some moments of beauty, both in aesthetics and simplicity. The two leads are very good, and those are what give this movie the life that it has, but otherwise, it's too slow to make an impact. This movie is 94 minutes and it feels like it's well over two hours. It's incredibly slow, and this is coming from someone who idolizes Sofia Coppola and considers Eyes Wide Shut and Under the Skin to be among their favorite films of all time. Here, there are glimmers of interest occasionally, and then they vanish. I appreciate what they went for, especially in today's over-saturated market of explosion-fests, but it didn't work as well as it good have, or as well as other current indies have. Hats off to its realism, though. 6.5/10, okay, average, one thumb down, etc.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing


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