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All Of Us Strangers (2024) Review

This is a review for the 2023 / 2024 movie “All of Us Strangers”.

When the nominations for the 2024 Oscars were announced, there were some obvious omissions. The world mourned the loss of Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig, but there was more missing outside of those two. All Of Us Strangers, the queer movie starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, received zero nominations. It received a lot of attention at the BAFTAs, but sadly – it just wasn’t meant to be at the Academy Awards. I hadn’t had a chance to see this movie, at the time of the nominations, so I shrugged it off. Now that I’ve seen this movie, I understand why the academy chose to snub it. They didn’t get it. Those cishet bastards.

What is All Of Us Strangers?

All Of Us Strangers is a small movie from director Andrew Haigh. It is an adaptation of the 1987 novel “Strangers” by Taichi Yamada. The story centres around Adam (Scott), a lonely gay man who lives alone in a London high-rise. He has an awkward encounter with fellow resident Harry (Mescal) – and after initially turning him down, the two start a relationship together. Where things get interesting, is when Adam travels to his old family home. In doing so, he discovers his long-dead parents (Claire Foy & Jamie Bell) are still leaving there, and they welcome him as if he never left. With them having died when he was twelve years old, they have a lot of catching up to do. A major part of that is, of course, coming to terms with Adam’s sexuality.

It’s a queer romance, combined with a ghost story – though there isn’t really any horror at play. The nature of the parents isn’t something that’s confirmed, but it does seem that they are part of Adam’s imagination; rather than a supernatural force. The movie explores themes of grief, loneliness and internalized homophobia.

The themes of All Of Us Strangers

Spoilers from here on out.

All Of Us Strangers is a very sad movie, that deals with death and depression. Adam is a lonely and depressed man, and it’s clear that he blames some of that on his sexuality. That may be subconscious, but it’s clear in the way that he rejects the label “queer” out of shame; and how he laments his friends moving to suburbia to start families, that he feels out of place due to being gay. This is personified by his visions of his parents, who also take some time to come around to the idea.

To me, the story of this movie is about Adam learning to forgive himself for his sexuality, and to take pride in it. This is end-capped by his parents telling him how “proud” they are of him, reducing him to tears as they vanish from his life for good. With this newfound pride, he imagines himself using this to help the younger queer generation. He envisions a world where he was better and saved Harry from the suicide that he committed upon rejection.

Ending Explained

Harry is actually only present in the first few scenes of the movie. At the end, he’s found dead in his bathtub – in the same outfit that he was wearing when he first met Adam. This suggests that the relationship between Harry and Adam never actually existed. They were still strangers. Both living in the same building, but complete strangers to the end. This only adds to the isolation that Adam is feeling throughout the movie.

There is an alternative interpretation, which I prefer. One could argue that the dead version of Harry is in Adam’s imagination, and that the relationship was real. The body is Adam’s version of events if he didn’t intervene and let Harry into his life. If the downer ending ruins this movie for you, then I think this is an equally valid interpretation. In my opinion, it actually works better with the themes of queer generational trauma.

All Of Us Strangers: Review

This movie is very effective and achieves everything it is trying to do. It is a very small-scale story, and that always runs the risk of being boring and repetitive. While it does start to feel cookie-cutter in places, there’s enough ambiguity about the future direction to keep you engaged. It’s shot and edited well beautifully, I particularly enjoyed the decision to fade between (often very short) scenes. This gave a very dream-like quality to the story, which matches the subject matter.

The real heroes here, however, are the actors. All four of the main cast are incredible. None of these parts are simple, but they all nail them so well. Claire Foy was a particular stand-out, but if you said that about any other cast member – I would understand. It’s a tragedy that this received no acting nominations at the Oscars. Especially so in some of the weaker categories, such as Best Supporting Actress. I definitely would’ve snuck Claire Foy in over America Ferrera or Jodie Foster.

My concern with this type of movie is always “will straight people get it?”… and if they get it, will they like it? I’m unsure of my answer to that question. Most of my “enjoyment” (read: pain) of this movie came from the depictions of a strained familial relationship due to a child coming out. That’s a trope that cishet folk seem to like, I imagine it’s because they can see themselves as the parent, so that may be appealing to them. I’m not too sure how the nuances of Adam’s identity and internalized homophobia will resonate, but that’s on them.

Who should watch this movie?

It’s in a difficult spot of being an “awards season” movie, that hasn’t earned any recognition from the Academy. Thankfully, I don’t think that will hurt its success, as there appears to be a lot of interest from the people I know. If you’re interested in a small-scale drama, with some ghost story elements, then check this out. Even if the queer aspects don’t appeal to you, you’ll find something here that you enjoy. If you are into the queer stuff, however, then get yourself down to the cinema. This is one of the best queer movies of the decade, so far, and it’s well worth your time.

Rating: 9 / 10

This was a review for All Of Us Strangers. Did this movie make you feel the power of love, or was it a car crash? Let us know in the comments below.

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