Review – All of Us Strangers

There is an uneasy feeling from the very first frame of director Andrew Haigh’s new film All of Us Strangers. A sunset orangey tinge shines through the clear glass windows of a new apartment building, making it feel almost apocalyptic. A seemingly empty building with two residents who keep running into each other in the elevator, making their connection feel other-worldly. This atmosphere weaves its way throughout the film as the connection between the apartment building and an abandoned house in the countryside act as conduits, with the real world existing as the mad haze in between. All of Us Strangers keeps all of these things at arms length until the final act, delivering an emotional rollercoaster that will stay with you long after you have left the cinema. 

At the centre of this story are four characters. Adam (Andrew Scott) is a screenwriter working on his next script. Just having moved into a new building and apartment, he finds himself at odds with the world, sitting around, procrastinating, seemingly stuck in a type of self-inflicted purgatory. A fire alarm forces the building to evacuate, and Adam runs into the only other resident of the building, Harry (Paul Mescal), a scruffy-looking character intent on having a one-nighter. 

Adam constantly travels to the countryside by train to visit the house of his dead parents played by Jamie Bell and Claire Foy. Their memories linger after they died in a car crash when Adam was 12 years old. They cry with relief when they see Adam, ask about his life, his apartment in the city. The scenes drift between Adam and his father, Adam and his mother, Adam and both parents. It is an unrelenting wave that blends as his relationship with Harry establishes and grows.

Haigh allows for these moments to hit an emotional high without being too in your face. As the scenes with Adam’s parents come in rapid succession, the ins and outs of his life are revealed. For men of a certain age like myself (cough cough) the impact of his coming out to his mum and dad separately is told with such brutal honesty, tears were just flowing down my cheeks without me even realising. The dialogue mirrors the attitude of the time with the AIDS crisis and only recent decriminalisation of homosexuality, some of the lines were actually what my parents said to me when I came out. It is a harrowing experience to look back and then see how far we have come. 

While the subject matter of losing both parents as a child and attempting to forge a relationship with someone as equally as damaged is no light fare, each performance here is delivered perfectly. Scott in particular helps Adam feel grounded yet susceptible to influence by Harry as their addiction to drugs and clubs further warps his reality. Mescal shines in this role, and is his best since Aftersun. The chemistry between Scott and Mescal really does carry the story. Their meet cute and discovering how they can be intimate with each in a physical and emotional sense is a joy to watch. Foy and Bell are mesmirising as Adam’s parents. Bell is a proud father who only wants the best for his son. The coming out scene between Bell and Scott is one of the highlights of the film. Bell is bold and unashamed to let his feelings out while being confused and proud of who his son has turned out to be. Similarly Foy, while still the proud Mum, struggles with the news and her concern for her son’s future and loneliness is perfectly encapsulated in this performance. 

All of Us Strangers is a haunting tale of loss and trauma. Placing a character in a self-induced state of purgatory and how this infects the world around him is a fascinating watch. Stunning performances from all four cast members allow for this emotionally overwhelming story to shine truly. The ghostly visuals that blend with the real-world locations are beautifully framed, cementing Andrew Haigh as a masterful filmmaker. This film had such a tremendous effect on me; as the lights slowly turned up and I tried to wipe away my tears and clean myself up quickly, I sent my friend a text message saying, “I don’t think I will ever be okay” The incredible and overwhelming beauty of this tale cannot be overstated. An emotional gut-punch with outstanding performances that will stay with you long after you have left the cinema. 

All of Us Strangers is in Australian cinemas now

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There is an uneasy feeling from the very first frame of director Andrew Haigh’s new film All of Us Strangers. A sunset orangey tinge shines through the clear glass windows of a new apartment building, making it feel almost apocalyptic. A seemingly empty building...Review - All of Us Strangers