In counterpoint to the torrent of hyper-real romance pictures which hit cinemas on Valentine’s Day, director Ira Sachs has created a profoundly authentic depiction of love and relationships that one hopes won’t be lost to the tide.
Recently married after 39 years together, Ben and George (brilliantly played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) find themselves having to sell their apartment due to George’s dismissal from teaching at a local Roman Catholic school. Having to live separately and relying on the favours of friends and family, their separation has a deep impact on the relationships of all who surround them.
Perhaps the most striking element of the film is its incredible sense of realism; so genuine as to make you honestly feel yourself to be another person at the party, or another chair at the dining table. This feat should be attributed not only to masterful character direction and some truly mesmerising acting (particularly that of John Lithgow’s Uncle Ben), but also to cinematographer Christos Voudouris’ beautifully styled camerawork, which manages to bring a warm, nostalgic and almost home-movie style to the digital format.
The film is at its best when its two leads are together, as should be the case with any love story. As well as providing the golden comic moments of the film, these scenes very gently paint the picture of an enduring relationship that has been tried, tested and will ultimately last a lifetime. Surely everything you could want for a Valentine’s viewing?
If you’re looking for a melodramatic or impassioned romance film, this is not it. This, as the title suggests, is a film purely and unashamedly focused on love of all varieties, and the seemingly inconsequential everyday moments that make it so special.
Images: Sony Pictures Classics