Film: “All of Us Strangers” starring Paul Mescal
Why do we dream what we dream? Do dreams reflect stressful situations we repress from our waking moments? Was it the extra spicy curry we ate the night before?
Alan (Jeremy Scott), the protagonist in Andrew Haigh’s beautifully shot and utterly confounding “All of Us Strangers,” is a dreamer of another sort. A screenwriter living in a sterile flat in a London suburb, he is suddenly visited one night by Harry (Paul Mescal), an attractive fellow tenant, who happens to be thoroughly inebriated. Harry wants to come inside for some hanky-panky but Adam politely refuses.
Cut to Adam taking the train to his parents’ home in a further-out suburb. Dad (Jamie Bell) and Mom (Claire Foy) greet him effusively—seems he’s been MIA for a while. Adam leaves, returns to his flat but revisits his parents the next day, revealing to his mom that he is gay. Mom is surprised; Dad not so much.
Something, you sense, is not right here. Why are Mom and Dad the same age as Adam? Why are they playing 1980s vinyl while trimming the Christmas tree ?
Meanwhile, Adam decides to connect with Harry. They watch TV together, dance at gay discos, take drugs, have sex, etc. Adam eventually takes Harry to visit his parents but something goes awry.
If I reveal what happens next, it will give away the entire movie. The dramatic device will either strike you as very clever or ridiculous. So apologies but no spoilers here.
The saving grace of “Strangers” (it puts the strange in “Strangers” btw) is the eye candy along the way, which is abundant. Scott is so attractive that it’s hard to believe him as a lonely nerd. Mescal, the Marlon Brando of our time, is convincing and fun to watch as the bad-boy neighbor.
Whatever you conclude, the movie has some tender insights about loneliness. And despite the raves it received in the New York Times, and its stellar cast, sorry, “Strangers” is a deep and difficult film. Maybe rewatching "A Christmas Story" was a better idea of all.
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