Love Is Strange (Blu-ray Review)

love is strangeI tend to enjoy seeing process be put on display in film.  A lot of times that applies to crime dramas or heist films, where you see the way things play out in a wordless manner, involving a lot of the inner workings of certain activities.  Love Is Strange, a film that is not remotely close to being a crime drama, puts process on display early on, as our two lead characters awaken and get ready for their wedding.  We watch them go through morning routines, leading up to their attempts to hail a cab. It does enough establish a sense of place, but more importantly, it allows us to watch two actors who seem incredibly comfortable in their roles.  That is how this film plays out for the most part, as we watch actors work very well together in a fairly low-key comedy-drama.  Now the film is on Blu-ray for many to see this comfortable film play out.


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The aforementioned couple is Ben and George, played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.  The two have been living together in Manhattan for 39 years and begin the film by getting married.   Unfortunately, despite this relationship not being a secret, the news of this marriage reaches the higher-ups at the Catholic school George teaches music at, resulting in termination of his employment.  The lack of salary now means George and Ben cannot afford to live in their apartment and must search for a new home.  While trying to figure out this new situation, Ben and George have no other choice but to live separately in the homes of their friends and family, who are also in the city.

For a film that will have a lot of focus placed onto it due to the fact that it is about an elderly same-sex couple, the movie actually does not feature Lithgow and Molina together a whole lot.  I think that helps in why I felt this was such an affecting relationship.  The scenes that do feature Ben and George occupying the same space have a nice level of energy that do not forget that these two are an older couple, but still manage to have them interact, banter, and quietly argue with one another in a sweet manner, without feeling too sentimental.  Keeping them apart for a lot of the film provides for a greater impact when they are together.  Given that this is a film about a couple that have been together for nearly four decades, it makes plenty of sense to see them act so relaxed around each other, which is why the plotting of this film effectively relies on human drama to guide it, rather than momentous events, other than the obvious one that sets the main story of this film in motion.

When Ben and George are not together, they are generally interacting with their friends and family members.  Ben is staying with his nephew Elliot (Darren Burrows) and his family, which includes Elliot’s wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) and their son Joey (Charlie Tahan).  Meanwhile, George is staying with their two gay cop friends, Ted and Roberto (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez).  The dynamics we see play out in both scenarios certainly run their course, with a bit more drama coming out of Ben’s living situation, as George only really struggles with not sleeping well, due to these cops being a couple of party animals on a nightly basis.

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For Ben, a former artist, who pretty much sits inside all day, the struggles begin to revolve around his constant interaction with Kate and Joey.  Lithgow is so good here, playing a guest that does not realize how irritating he just may be, despite having nothing but good intentions in mind.  His character is an artist who never became very popular, so his process of sitting around and looking for inspiration basically amounts to making conversation with Kate, who is busy trying to finish her novel, and Joey, who has his own dilemmas of being a teenage kid, with an older friend who may possibly be a bad influence.

The film was co-written and directed by Ira Sachs who finds just the right way to balance the drama with a fairly dry sense of humor.  His direction is subtle in the way it puts this relationship on display, with one of its greatest strengths lying in the fact that the film is hardly a gimmick, due to it being about a gay marriage.  Really, the leads could feature a couple of any persuasion and you would still have the same movie.  Sachs does a fine job of getting this idea across, while allowing the actors to make these roles feel authentic.  Both Lithgow and Molina are very good actors in their own right, with the abilities to play things broadly if they wanted, but here, we see some nice, nuanced performances, occasionally aided by the presence of their co-stars.

Also nice to observe is the filmmaking in general.  It feels as if the assembly of this feature kept in mind that Ben is an artist and George teaches music, as we see lovely shots of New York, whether it be from the rooftops or simply through observing the various streets.  Accompanying all of this is a nice classical score that allows the film to keep a good sense of its tone running throughout.  While the film has a bit of slack in its pace and finds a way to end a bit too neatly, there is a nice level of elegance that comes across, without feeling overdone.

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I was quite fond of Love is Strange.  Lithgow and Molina are well matched for their roles and each other.  The story is small scale, but it works in telling this fairly straight-forward, but nicely written relationship drama that keeps the family in mind as well.  It is a very good character study for those who want to seek out a well-acted drama, with no real agenda, other than showing a couple trying to get through some minor drama in New York.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a solid transfer that features plenty of detail, with the fact that Love is Strange was shot on film not hampering the clarity all that much.  Yes, there is an expected level of grain, but the image is still quite crisp.

Depth: Plenty of scenes featuring multiple characters in the foreground and background, which do enough to establish depth in the city of New York, which already has a lot going on.

Black Levels: Despite a level of grain being present, this is a film with deep and inky black levels.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and pop when necessary.  It is a fairly ordinary-looking film, but it has moments that shine quite well, based on certain colors of various costumes and sets.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures stand out quite well, reflecting the characters quite properly.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean



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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

Dynamics: This film features dialogue and classical music tracks and it all sounds really nice throughout.  This 5.1 track is very natural sounding, which is great.

Low Frequency Extension: Not much heavy action in this film to really test out the subwoofer, but some occasional music-based moments do the job.

Surround Sound Presentation: It is a well-mixed track, given how uncomplicated the sound mix is, for the most part.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Everyone is heard loud and clear.



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I was very happy to get the one thing I would have wanted in the form of extra features for this film: A commentary track with the director and stars.  It also helps to get a worthwhile featurette and Q&A.

Features Include:

  • Commentary with John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Ira Sachs – A discussion that may lean a bit hard on self-congratulations, but hearing the chemistry between these three and listening to them have fun together makes the whole thing quite enjoyable.
  • What is Love: Making of Love is Strange (HD, 23:21) – A nice EPK that is long enough to show us all of the different actors involved and let us hear significant thoughts on being a part of this film.
  • LA Film Festival Q&A with John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Cheyenne Jackson and Ira Sachs (HD, 24:58) – An enjoyable conversation about the film, following a screening.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Previews


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Love is Strange is a very good film with some very strong performances.  Yes, it keeps the main pairing separate for a good majority of it, but both Lithgow and Molina are some comfortable in their roles that they certainly seem like a couple, even when they are not together.  The Blu-ray is a solid package as well, rounded out by a few good extras.  Nice job all around.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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