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Andrew Scott Brings The Waterworks In Emotionally Charged ‘All Of Us Strangers’

A devastating look at loss and the coming out experience is at the center of director Andrew Haigh’s newest tearjerker…

“You were just a boy and now you’re not.”

There’s a dream-like aspect to Andrew Haigh’s newest fantasy drama, All of Us Strangers. After all, the film opens with Adam (Andrew Scott) wandering around his London residential tower, observing how eerily empty it is inside and outside the building. Only one other inhabitant seems to be living there: the attractive and deeply drunk Harry (Paul Mescal). The two have a chance encounter in which they drink, swap stories, and engage in a relationship that alters each man’s weary existence.

But outside of their newfound entanglement is an otherworldly side to Adam’s life as the 40-something periodically travels into the past to have conversations with his mother and father (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell). Every visit more detailed and heartwarming than the last; Adam and his long-deceased parents catch up as if no time has passed since they met their demise decades prior due to a car accident. Though Adam was a child when he lost his parents, he now has the chance to live out his dreams of coming out to his mother, updating his parents on his interests as an adult, and mustering the courage to introduce them to his new boyfriend.

Based on the novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada, All of Us Strangers is a trip down memory lane in the most gut-wrenching way imaginable. A second film adaptation and the first from a mainstream Hollywood distributor, Haigh’s peek into one man’s queer journey also tracks the ramifications of holding onto the past. Discussions of the AIDS crisis and modern gay dating illuminate Adam and Harry’s budding relationship, a stark contrast to Adam’s parents’ outdated understanding of queer people. Moving on is a central theme in this story, filled with regret, connection, and lasting implications of one’s choices.

Adam is an adult man living in a big city, but fears of loneliness and isolation take over his mindset from the very beginning of the film. Harry entering his world is a lifesaver, but balancing his time travel adventures with his new relationship status might be too much to handle at one time. As grief takes center stage and Harry’s presence in Adam’s life becomes more concrete, the film takes dramatic turns toward a blurry yet fantastical endpoint.

How long will the fever dream last? When does the real world come crashing down on Adam?

All of Us Strangers is not for the faint of heart. In fact, its muddled surrealism speaks to the stages of grief in complex and challenging ways, culminating in a twisty-turvy climax that will break souls and topple all expectations. Andrew Scott has fully realized a masterful take on a character begging to be heard, seen, and felt. His performance as Adam is not only heartbreaking to an explosive degree but also an honest portrayal of lost youth and one man’s journey to discover how to be an adult without parental figures.

Claire Foy’s motherly interpretation gives light to an otherwise dark scenario, leading Adam to feel comfortable coming out of the closet to a parent who never got the chance to understand her son in a truthful way. Their interactions are some of the film’s most endearing and harrowing scenes, giving a supernatural quest much-needed authenticity. Because of these sequences, Adam gets the chance to spend meaningful moments with his parents. At the same time, everyone involved is the same age, providing new perspectives on his relationship with the much younger Harry.

All of Us Strangers is a monumental feat for director Andrew Haigh and the impressive cast of British actors. It’s a solemn yet bizarre take on the ties that bind us in a post-pandemic world. Emotional and profound until the very last scene, the film stands as a reminder to have the difficult conversations with those you love while they’re still around to listen.

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