Love Is Strange begins with two elderly men waking up, getting dressed and then, in an affectionate and informal ceremony, getting married.
Ben, played by John Lithgow, and George, played by Alfred Molina, have been partners for 39 years. When same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York City, they decide to take the plunge. Except that soon after, George, who works in a Catholic school, loses his job. Ben is retired. They are forced to sell their apartment and live separately with supportive family and friends until they find a cheaper apartment.
I know this sounds like an alternative sexuality Baghban. I did, fleetingly, wonder if director Ira Sachs had watched Ravi Chopra's 2003 weepie in which Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini play a loving, elderly couple who are forced to live separately after he retires because their obnoxious children refuse to shoulder the burden of both parents. But Love Is Strange is so much more.
There are no villains here. Friends and family immediately step up for Ben and George. It's the smaller strains of life in a big city that ultimately frays their bonds. Cramped apartments, teenage children, loneliness, the myriad indignities of age.
There is a lovely scene, in which Ben drives his nephew's wife, up the wall. He wants to chat. She wants to work. There is only one room.
Love Is Strange is melancholy and moving. Sachs tells the story of Ben and George with great tenderness. Lithgow and Molina are wonderful - they have the warmth and sweetness of an old married couple. At one point, George simply breaks down in Ben's arms - it's heartbreaking and you almost want to look away because it feels intrusive. There is a hushed wisdom in this film. Find it.