Wednesday 31 January 2024

The Current Cinema and Premiering at the Mardi Gras Film Festival - Rod Bishop highly recommends ALL OF US STRANGERS (Andrew Haigh, UK, 2023)


Paul Mescal, Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers

Andrew Haigh’s latest – and his best – reaches our screens drowning in a welter of glowing, admiring reviews. Beguiling to begin with, it slow-burns its way to an incandescent conclusion. 

For those who regard themselves as supporting gay relationships, and bask in a warm inner glow while voting for same sex marriage, yet still struggle to understand the hostility some gays have to their portrayal in the cinema, Haigh’s two overtly queer films Weekend and All of Us Strangers make good antidotes.

The fiercer of the two, Weekend rages at the normalcy of heterosexual culture and its pervasive, unconscious way of marginalizing those with different sexual orientations. All of Us Strangers is far quieter, more subtle – it includes, for instance, painful, almost whispered agonies over families who claim acceptance of their gay son but at Christmas, still hurtfully centre all their attentions on his heterosexual siblings and their children. Leaving him, if not outside, then effectively always stranded on the periphery. 

Andrew Haigh

Adam (Andrew Scott) is traumatized by bullying at high school and, at the age of twelve, by the deaths of his parents in a car accident. He lives, virtually alone, in a huge block of new apartments in London, writing screenplays for film and television. He tentatively starts a relationship with the only other resident, Harry (Paul Mescal) - also gay and also intensely lonely.

Adam takes a train to visit his old family home and finds his parents alive, but still at the ages of their deaths, and therefore much younger than he is. It’s a brilliant magical realist device for unravelling the complexities of their relationships. Mum (Claire Foy), for instance, has only just heard about the gay plague, and is clearly disturbed by her son’s now declared gay status. His father (Jamie Bell) is more accepting, but still unable to reconcile his aloof, remote, emotionless fathering and the lasting impact it’s had on his son.  

Shot on 35mm, Haigh’s hypnotic and, at times, hallucinatory direction, is complemented by flawless performances from the cast. The mundane locations are transformed by the metaphysics and the wrenching emotions and Haigh effortlessly casts a spell over his heart-breaking story.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the 80s transgressive band from Liverpool, makes a welcome revival, particularly The Power of Love (“I’ll protect you from the hooded claw, Keep the vampires from your door…The power of love, A force from above, Cleaning my soul, Flame on, burn desire, Love with tongues of fire, Purge the soul, Make love your goal.”)


All of us Strangers has its premiere in Sydney at the forthcoming Mardi Gras Film Festival. For information regarding session times and bookings CLICK HERE

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