All of Us Strangers is the most disturbing movie I’ve seen since The Deer Hunter in 1979. (That movie left me crying in my childhood bedroom afterwards. I remember my brother coming into my bedroom to ask me what was wrong.) When I got home, I posted on Facebook that, “while I thought it was extremely well done (particularly the performances), it's not a movie I'd recommend if you're feeling sad or depressed or don't have access to a therapist immediately afterwards. I also had to check Wikipedia when I got home to find out wtf happened in it and I'm still a little confused.”
I’m slightly less confused now but after a somewhat sleepless New Year’s Eve, I’m still disturbed by it, but I can’t discuss it without revealing some plot points, so here goes.
All of Us Strangers is about two gay men, Adam and Harry, who live in a mostly empty apartment tower on the outskirts of London (they seem to be the only two tenants in the building) who meet and start a relationship. During the course of the movie, it’s revealed that Adam’s two parents died in a car crash when he was 12. It’s a little confusing, though, because throughout the film, Adam visits his childhood home, where his parents are still alive and basically the same age he is. At the end of the movie, according to Wikipedia, Adam returns to his apartment building and “goes to see Harry but finds him long dead in his flat's bedroom, with the same bottle he was drinking from on the night they met empty in his hand." So does that mean their entire relationship was a fantasy?
One of the most depressing things about the movie is that it uses the song “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (quite powerfully, I might add) and I had to remind myself that that song is 40 years old.
So where do I begin?
On the one hand, this is a powerful, thought-provoking film with great performances by the entire cast (especially Andrew Scott as Adam, but also Paul Mescal as Harry and Jamie Bell and Claire Foy as Adam’s parents), but you might feel suicidal afterwards. I think it speaks to the alienation of living in a large city like London and also deals quite effectively with the issue of coming out to one’s parents and wanting to be accepted by them.
I think the movie’s message is that love transcends death (or “the power of love,” like the song used in the movie), but, damn, at what cost?