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All Of Us Strangers

  • Film
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
All of Us Strangers
Photograph: Searchlight Pictures
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Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott spark in a masterful love story of loneliness and healing

In the cinema of Andrew Haigh, from Weekend to Lean on Pete, characters are often looking for a connection that they’re afraid to ask for. Adapting Taichi Yamada’s 1987 novel ‘Strangers’, Haigh writes and directs an achingly sincere exploration of love and loneliness. 

Screenwriter Adam (Andrew Scott) lives alone in a characterless new build somewhere in London. The city looms beneath him, beautiful and bare, reminding him of his solitude. Adam’s parents died in a car crash when he was just 12, his friends moved away to have gardens and babies. He is the only soul in his building, aside from Harry (Paul Mescal), who turns up at his door one night, drunk and horny. Their chance encounter leads to the cautious unfolding of a love story between two deeply wounded characters, their individual pain tangled up and misshapen. Both Adam and Harry are easy to fall in love with, both of them lonely creatures with a great capacity for love but nowhere to direct it to. 

The chemistry between Scott and Mescal is feverish, rapt and tender. They are physically drawn together as if they had been ripped apart eons ago and are now stitching themselves back as they should have been. Harry draws Adam out of his isolation with sex, at first, a ketamine-sprinkled night on the town, but, mostly, with immense care. Adam, in turn, is a validating force for a character with a tendency to dismiss his own pain. 

This unexpected love story coincides with an unexplainable event: visiting his childhood home near Croydon, Adam encounters his parents (played by a note-perfect Jamie Bell and Claire Foy), the same age as they were when he was a child, as if encased in an 1987 amber. This opportunity to get to know his parents, and for them to get to know their son who they never saw grow up, would be hokey in many hands, but Haigh graces his characters with a radical tenderness. 

The chemistry between Scott and Mescal is feverish, rapt and tender 

Supernaturally, Adam gets the opportunity to come out to his parents, confronting his mom’s classically ’80s prejudices and unburden the abandonment he felt at his father’s inability to comfort his bullied son. It is a sign of Haigh’s dexterity as a filmmaker that the ghost element of the story feels completely natural, weaving in the universal, impossible fantasy of bridging the gap between parents and children, with both sides flawed but full of love for each other. 

All of Us Strangers is a miraculously uncheesy study of loneliness, forgiveness and, above all, the power of love. 

In US theaters Dec 22 and UK cinemas Jan 26.

Anna Bogutskaya
Written by
Anna Bogutskaya

Cast and crew

  • Director:Andrew Haigh
  • Screenwriter:Andrew Haigh
  • Cast:
    • Claire Foy
    • Paul Mescal
    • Andrew Scott
    • Jamie Bell
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