‘All of Us Strangers’ Review: A Delicately Ambiguous Reflection on Queer Love and Loss The Global Tofay

‘All of Us Strangers’ Review: A Delicately Ambiguous Reflection on Queer Love and Loss The Global Tofay Global Today

Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers opens on Adam (Andrew Scott), a writer living in a newly built apartment complex that is vacant to the point of feeling almost haunted. Occasionally, Adam takes the train to visit his childhood home, where his bright-eyed mother (Claire Foy) and his gruff, but warm, father (Jamie Bell) welcome him in, pour him a drink, and pet him gently along the nape of his neck. 

In tandem with these visits, Adam begins seeing the handsome, gentle, and intangibly sad Harry (Paul Mescal), who is seemingly the only other tenant of Adam’s tragic apartment building. 

We quickly learn that Adam’s “visits” to his parents occur in a pseudo-dreamscape—a crystallized version of Adam’s memory of them from before they died when he was only 12 years old. The membrane between Adam’s fantasy visits to his parents’ home and his growing affection for Harry is thin. We move between one space and the next with little warning, sometimes even jarringly so. A memory of Adam curled up in his parents’ bed is shattered by Harry leaning over and kissing him from the spot Adam’s father was just lying in. 

We are not so much watching Adam’s life objectively as we are existing within his subconscious, flowing with minimal distinction between his dreams, his fantasies, and reality. The effect is not one of frustrating ambiguity (which it could easily be in less skilled, gentle hands), but of encouraged vulnerability—a coaxing open of earnest feeling in the midst of a wavering sense of reality. Without anything sure to hold onto, one must instead choose to involve oneself in Adam’s feelings and experiences with acute presence. Through careful camera movement, delicate shifts in color and light, and Scott’s frankly stunning performance—always looking as if he’s about six years old and seconds away from being cracked open— All of Us Strangers feels like a raw wound or a half-conscious sleep. 

Adam’s dreams, his fantasies, and even the day-to-day flow of his life in the isolating, dimly lit, and sometimes even frightening apartment hallways are all on shaky and uncertain ground. The film attempts to capture the smeared, non-linear experience of life, loss, and memory, but also allows for us to find steadiness in the singular centralizing force of Adam’s growing love for Harry. 

In their relationship, there is no ambiguity or sidestepping. Harry comes onto Adam within the very first few moments of the film with a quiet, drunken assurance that they don’t have to do anything if Harry isn’t his type. Later, Harry asks if Adam is queer. Adam says he prefers the word gay—queer feels too weighty and degrading when considered from the era that he grew up in. Queer seems a more polite term, Harry muses in turn, because it “gets rid of all the dick-sucking.” 

Under this definition, then, All of Us Strangers would likely categorize itself as gay, not queer; with its dick-sucking, its explicit fucking, and even its visual portrayal of ejaculate. These moments of sex and sensuality are, in and of themselves, important grounding. They provide a sensation of here-and-nowness that penetrates the dreamy, claustrophobic mist of Adam’s grief-ridden and lonely haze. 

Most importantly, perhaps, Adam’s sexuality is not detached from his relationship with his parents. In fact, nearly all of his time spent with Mum and Dad is centered around his fantasy of coming out, as well as the realistically tentative responses of his parents. 

The fact that the main thing Adam wants to share with his parents is his queerness is deeply moving. All of Us Strangers does not ask Adam to insist his being gay is not an inherent and important part of him. In actuality, the love he finds seems to be the very thing keeping him alive. Harry’s hands reaching out to him as he screams for his are perhaps the only grounding force in the purgatory of his gray, dim apartment. 

All of Us Strangers takes the notion of diverging paths in our lives and blurs the lines together. It’s not necessarily a happy film—in fact, its artful ambiguousness inspires a multitude of readings, ranging from the fearful and dejected to the hopeful. But it chooses, quite movingly, to look at loving as something stabilizing and true. To go without love leaves one untethered, out to sea and lost in grief. And to love, especially after loss, is to take a risk and sit in the space between grief and joy.

#Strangers #Review #Delicately #Ambiguous #Reflection #Queer #Love #Loss

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *