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All Of Us Strangers Review - Val Ruloff

Maybe I didn't love you... quite as much as I should have". Such resonating lyrics, sung here by the Pet Shop Boys ... and powerfully evoking film theme and message. Music is used very expressively during course of the whole film... serving to communicate very effectively and poignantly throughout.

Emotionally intense subject matter and content are evident in the screenplay and film direction by Andrew Haigh, as the audience are introduced to Adam (Andrew Scott)and his parents (Jamie Bell, Claire Foy) and London tower-block neighbour, Harry (Paul Mescal).

The imagery is very atmospheric, such as opening scenes in the lonely, expansive tower block apartment where Adam lives almost reclusively and with barely any other tenants seeming to occupy the building. The club scene is striking in the stifling, frenetic and virtually claustrophobic atmosphere also conveyed.

Adam's story unfolds as he encounters Harry, who approaches him to seek company,  friendship and maybe even something more intimate. Adam clearly communicates his familiarity with being alone, even his whole lifestyle and work as a writer convey this...whilst equally expressively conveyed are his struggles with "aloneness" and being lonely.

Adam is then drawn to embark, like a pilgrim, upon a visit to his childhood home. Here Adam encounters his parents, most intriguingly, as they are living exactly as he remembers them over three decades ago... before losing them in a tragic car accident one Christmas time when he was growing up.

The film effectively employs devices such as train journeys to shuttle Adam between his home town and London and move the storyline and timescales in a manner which also transports the viewer along for the ride and is reminiscent of classic films such as "Brief Encounter" and "The Lady Vanishes". We are shuttled between different dimensions in this way, too. Who and what are real? There have been some questions posed about what categories the film can be pigeonholed in... ghost story? Romantic love story? It seems that the story being told works on numerous levels... and uses a broad and sweeping canvas to paint and portray some timeless and subtle messages and themes about the existential human condition, relationships, love and loss, bereavement, individual sexuality, loneliness and communication.

The film is testament to a labour of love by director, Andrew Haigh, who chose to use his own actual childhood home as the location for Adam's childhood home.

The performances given are outstanding, especially by Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, as well as Jamie Bell and Claire Foy. I would venture that it would be more than a challenge to sit through the film and not be brought to tears. I don't mind saying that tears streamed down my face, more than once. 

The themes covered are universal in at least most respects. The portrayal of the "eighties" era is very beautifully and credibly evoked. Adam is given that ever-elusive opportunity to retrieve, resolve and address those things left unfinished all those years ago. His own future chances to love are explored carefully... and very poignantly.

"I'll protect you from the Hooded Claw... keep the vampires from your door" intone the vocals of Frankie Goes to Hollywood singing what is surely the best message of all , "The Power of Love".


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