‘All of Us Strangers’ movie review: Death becomes them in Andrew Haigh’s piercing drama

Andrew Haigh’s adaptation of the Taichi Yamada novel is a heartbreaking, soaring ride, shored up with poignantly truthful performances from Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell and Claire Foy

March 08, 2024 05:24 pm | Updated 06:12 pm IST

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal in a scene from “All of Us Strangers.”

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal in a scene from “All of Us Strangers.” | Photo Credit: AP

Ghost stories can be looked at as love stories; with the departed not willing to let go of the living and vice versa. Andrew Haigh’s adaptation of Taichi Yamada’s 1987 novel “Strangers” is an achingly tender story of love, loss, grief and reconciliation. In a nearly empty tower block in London, Adam (Andrew Scott) writes scripts for television. One night, upon returning to his apartment after the fire alarm sounds, his neighbour, Harry (Paul Mescal), rings the doorbell.

All of Us Strangers (English)
Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy 
Runtime: 106 minutes
Storyline: A writer begins a passionate relationship and must confront past trauma to move ahead 

Though initially refusing to let Harry in, the two begin a passionate relationship. Harry learns that apart from writing scripts for television, Adam is also writing about his parents, whom he lost in a car crash 30 years ago before he turned 12. Adam visits his parents’ house and has conversations with his mum (Claire Foy) and dad (Jamie Bell). They assure him of their love and pride in his achievements while apologising for not being a good parent or not being present to comfort him when he was bullied in school.

Adam’s mum says she would have become a better mother with time, while his father honestly says he did not want to hear of Adam being bullied because he knew he would have probably picked on Adam at school too. Adam coming out to his mother is sweetly funny with his mum asking him since when has he been gay and telling him that he does not look gay.

Since his parents are projections of Adam’s boyhood memories, they are frozen in the ‘80s, with that decade’s big hair, clothes, pop songs, attitudes and fears — Adam’s mum worries about AIDS, while Adam assures his mother that if he is lonely, it has nothing to do with his sexuality. All of Us Strangers looks at the crippling effects of loneliness among the young in soul-crushing megalopolises, which no amount of partying or substance abuse can quench.

The acting is pitch-perfect. From Foy’s personification of a ‘mum’ in a 12-year-old’s eyes singing ‘You are Always on my Mind,’ to Bell’s tentative reaching out to his son and Mescal’s wounded bird, desperately looking for a perch. Scott is on a whole different level acting-wise as all the characters are reflections of his perceptions. The name Adam is significant — he is the first man and maybe the last(?). If the characters around him are reflections of him, what does that say about Adam? To create a person out of a satellite is a mind-boggling feat, one which Scott has done with grace and felicity. With every shy smile and tremulous look, his Adam is a living, breathing, feeling individual.

All of Us Strangers is the answer to every woulda coulda shoulda and then some, offering a second chance to tell a loved one that you would protect them from the hooded claw and keep the vampires from their door...

All of Us Strangers is currently running in theatres

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