All of Us Strangers (2024)

(Director Andrew Haigh)

Adam (Bill Paxton look-alike Andrew Scott) is a desolate would-be writer, living alone. After a fire alarm in his London tower block he meets Harry (Paul Mescal) who is, strangely, the only other inhabitant of the building.  Harry wants to party the night away, but Adam sends him home. Soon after this, for reasons which are not clear, Adam goes to a park near his childhood home (set in the house in which director Haigh was raised) and meets his father, apparently by chance. Adam starts to spend  time with his parents whom he hasn’t seen since one evening in the 1980s when he was a pre-teen. Which is unsurprising, given that they died that night.   His parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) are no more surprised to see Adam than he is to see them. Mum and Dad look as they did 30 years ago, although Adam is now in his forties.

Back in the near-deserted tower block, Adam does let Harry into his flat and they take their clothes off almost immediately. (In real life do all gay men jump on each other within five minutes of meeting? Or is this just on screen? Asking for a friend). Their relationship develops into something, but it’s tepid. Neither of them seems to have anything else to do and neither is particularly appealing.

After the (obligatory) ketamine-fuelled LGBTQ+ dance-club scene, Adam becomes increasingly confused, as are we.  Is he drug-addled? Mentally ill?

This is a very good film.  More is going on than first appears.  It is ingenious, affecting and puzzling; but it could have been a great film. The ideas and the feels are undercut by the banality of Adam’s obsession with talking to his parents non-stop about how awful it was to grow up being homosexual. These speeches are preachy and out of date, particularly given that Adam’s parents seem quite okay with his sexuality. Really, if you met your long dead parents who were now somehow here and in their thirties, wouldn’t you have something to talk to them about other than how you used to cry in your bedroom because you were bullied at school? You might, for instance, ask them where they’ve been, is there a god and how they’ve kept their hair so nice after three decades in a box.

Do take note of the shirt Harry is wearing when he first knocks on Adam’s door.


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