I’ll admit it. I started as a theater director, and I’m strongly biased toward actors with stage experience. So I was already on board for this year’s Sundance hit, Love Is Strange starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. They are wonderful actors and profoundly decent men. Where would Joseph Gordon-Levitt be if Third Rock from the Sun had starred, say, Charlie Sheen?
As expected, the acting in the film is glorious. Glorious enough that I forgave the film for having few people of color. Adriane Lenox plays a principal, the narratively marginalized minority authority. Think the wondrous Penny Johnson (Captain Gates) on Castle or the brilliant, but wasted B.D. Wong (Dr. Huang) on Law & Order: SVU.
Sadly, the movie has logical holes that the proverbial truck could plow through. And its sense of time could at best be described as vague and elastic. But these faults don’t sink the movie.
Love is Strange demonstrates that the emotional deadness that has become the norm for story and performance, a distanced irony that I like to call the Law & Order denouement style has created a void. Don’t believe me? Let’s move away from indie faves to the zeitgeist. Remember the celebration of the “human moments” in The Avengers? That’s why the film was overrated.
It’s time for filmmakers to wrest the balance of power back from technology. There has to be a happy medium where we get to keep the glories of green screen, VFX, 3D and CGI without swallowing performances whole or letting well crafted stories with fully developed characters wither. The time is right to bring back emotion.