Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA/France, 2014. Parts and Labor, Faliro House Productions, Film50, Mutressa Movies, RT Features. Screenplay by Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias. Cinematography by Christos Voudouris. Produced by Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jay Van Hoy. Production Design by Amy Williams. Costume Design by Arjun Bhasin. Film Editing by Affonso Goncalves, Michael Taylor. Gotham Awards 2014. Independent Spirit Awards 2014. North Carolina Film Critics Awards 2014.
After thirty-nine years together, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina decide to enjoy the newly legalized option of same-sex marriage, much to the joy and happiness of their family and friends. Immediately following their nuptials, their lives come crashing down when Molina loses his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school and the lack of money coming in means they need to sell their swanky New York apartment. Hunting for a cheaper rental and getting Molina another job means needing a place in the city, splitting the couple up between loved ones as Molina crashes on the couch of downstairs neighbor Cheyenne Jackson and his partner Manny Perez, and Lithgow is carted off to nephew Darren E. Burrows (who is distressingly terrible) and his famous novelist wife (Marisa Tomei). This begins a modern-day Tokyo Story of sorts, where the people who treated these men as heroes in the opening scene have their rhetoric tested by having old men invade their personal space: Tomei is aggravated by her chattering visitor who interrupts her much-needed silence, while Molina finds himself unable to catch up with the pop culture obsessions and fast party fun that Jackson and Perez seem to easily enjoy (and which is presented, much like everything in this film, with a self-righteous and condescending tone). It wants to be a poignant and delicate piece on the realities of human prejudices even in this apparently oh-so tolerant world, plus the bitter realities that these men have to face at an age where everything should settled and straightforward, but director Ira Sachs wants to be meaningful with such desperation that he forgets to actually explore these issues (and that of the almost comical rarity of personal space in a city like New York that has such a devastating effect on their personal lives), instead plotting out his tale with ellipses that mean to be ominous but are actually just awkward. It’s rare to see a movie so very dedicated to two people that it barely bothers to get acquainted with, awash as it is in smug melodrama that is only broken up by one winsomely humorous scene; a hilarious exchange between the leads at a bar comes too late and gives too little reward to make up for the rest.