All of Us Strangers review: Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal exude a devastatingly sexy and melancholic aura.

Andrew Haigh’s newest film offers a surreal and sensuous exploration of grief through parable.

Drawing inspiration from another pop culture work, “All of Us Strangers” delves into the profound question: “What is grief, if not love persevering?” This sentiment lies at the core of writer-director Andrew Haigh’s latest film, as it follows the journey of Adam (Andrew Scott), a gay Londoner grappling with the trauma and loss of his parents during his pre-teen years. After encountering his inebriated yet alluring neighbor, Harry (Paul Mescal), Adam finds himself drawn back to his childhood home, engaging in conversations with his deceased parents, portrayed by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell, who perished in a car accident when he was just 12.

As Adam seeks to reconcile with the years of absence, he finally engages in the conversations he has yearned for, addressing topics such as his sexuality, career decisions, and the trauma he endured as a closeted gay youth in 1980s England. Through these interactions with his deceased parents, he grapples with his past and seeks understanding and closure. Meanwhile, amidst this journey of self-discovery, Adam embarks on a passionate romance with Harry, further complicating his emotional landscape as he navigates both the present and the ghosts of his past.

Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott in ALL OF US STRANGERS. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Haigh’s film transcends traditional storytelling, embodying more of a poetic exploration of loss and love rather than following a strict linear narrative. For Adam to open himself to love and acceptance, he must first confront and find closure for the unresolved issues of his past. Throughout the film, reality blurs with fantasy, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that leaves the audience questioning what is real and what is imagined.

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal deliver performances charged with electric chemistry, particularly evident in their sweaty, intimate, and visceral love scenes. While their romance initially appears to be the focal point, it ultimately takes a back seat to the deeper exploration of parental love and loss. Nonetheless, witnessing these two captivating actors, who are also internet darlings, sharing moments of affection on screen is a delightful experience for the audience.

Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott in ALL OF US STRANGERS. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Scott, affectionately recognized primarily as Fleabag’s Hot Priest, at last, assumes a leading film role that truly showcases his talent. His portrayal exhibits a distinctive combination of mischievousness and sadness, enhancing the film’s supernatural aspects with an otherworldly quality. Scott’s skill in reverting to a childlike state, whether sneaking into his parents’ bed at night or marveling at the Christmas tree, is a mesmerizing feat in itself. Witnessing him revel in the affection and emotional nurturing he has yearned for over the years is both peculiar and heartrending.

Mescal, with his understated dialogue delivery and penchant for physical affection, offers a striking contrast to Scott’s more reserved demeanor. However, it’s the gradual unfolding of tenderness, intimacy, and love in Adam’s life, guided by Scott’s nuanced performance, that blankets the viewer with a profound emotional weight. Scott consistently demonstrates an exceptional ability to convey raw vulnerability on screen, a trait that shines through in “Strangers.”

Foy and Bell deliver stellar performances as parents from a bygone era, grappling to comprehend their son’s modern life. The film’s touches of whimsy, evident in the parents’ ’80s attire and the BritPop soundtrack, infuse it with a nostalgic charm, heightening the impact of its emotional climax.

Grief is a complex and transformative force, weaving its way into our very being, permanently reshaping our capacity for love, our perception of self, and our understanding of identity. This is the profound exploration that Haigh undertakes in “All of Us Strangers,” underscored by a poignant reflection on the enduring strength of love, which transcends the boundaries of death itself. The film delicately unravels these themes with a bittersweet tone, offering a profound journey that may shatter your heart, yet also hold the potential to mend it once more.

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