Monday, October 09, 2023

ALL OF US STRANGERS**** - BFI London Film Festival 2023 - Day 5

ALL OF US STRANGERS is the latest film from Andrew Haigh (WEEKEND) and yet another beautifully crafted, intimate, emotionally affecting film. It stars Andrew Scott (Sherlock) as Adam, a gay, forty something screenwriter struggling to deal with the death of his parents when he was a child. On successive visits to his childhood home he imagines he can tell them about his life now, come out to them, and tell them how the world has changed for him.  The scenes can only be described as truly heartbreaking. Adam flits between adulthood and childhood, delighting in being able to be cared for by his mum and dad, but then also bristling at their attitudes to his sexuality. They tell them they are proud of him and he is so riven with self-doubt and pain that he cannot accept the complement. Claire Foy and Jamie Bell are wonderful in these smaller but viscerally emotional roles.  

I found the present day relationship less successful. Adam strikes up a friendship with another man in his apartment block: they are seemingly the only two people home alone at Christmas.  Harry (Paul Mescal) seems more comfortable in his skin at first, or at least more able to articulate his need for connection and intimacy. But as the film progresses we realise that he is also deeply vulnerable.

Andrew Haigh's previous films showed a willingness to mine the emotional nuances of modern relationships. But I feel ALL OF US STRANGERS is a leap forward in its technical skill and visual and aural creativity. In particular, a bravura central scene in a nightclub shows a director increasingly confident in his work and willing to push himself stylistically.

ALL OF US STRANGERS has a running time of 105 minutes. It played London 2023. It goes on release in the USA on December 22nd and in the UK on January 26th.

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