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By Lord Wallace of Saltaire
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Lord Collins reviews 'All Of Us Strangers'

'All of Us Strangers': Andrew Scott as Adam and Paul Mescal as Harry | Image by: FlixPix / Alamy Stock Photo

3 min read

Powerfully conveying the impact of growing up gay in the 80s, Andrew Haigh’s story of love, loss and loneliness packs a strong emotional punch

Every now and then a film comes along that gives a strong emotional punch, and All of Us Strangers is one of them. Written and directed by Andrew Haigh, it is based on the 1987 novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada. The film works on many levels, through past and present, dreams and reality – but don’t be put off, as it delivers a very passionate narrative.

Adam, played by Andrew Scott, is a screenwriter living in one of those modern high-rise flats we see shooting up all over London. Struggling to write about his childhood, he spots Harry in the distance, played brilliantly by Paul Mescal, who subsequently knocks on his front door in a drunken state. Harry makes a pass at Adam who, whilst confirming he’s an out gay man, politely rejects the advances. It’s soon apparent both men face loneliness and ghosts from the past.

We see Adam visiting his unoccupied childhood home where he discovers his parents, who died in a car accident when he was 12. Jamie Bell plays his dad and Claire Foy his mum. Returning to his flat, Adam and Harry have passionate sex, after which Harry describes his own feelings of distance from his family. To add authenticity, Haigh’s childhood home served as the location for the house in which Adam finds his parents, with the nightclub sequences being filmed in the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

The conversations between adult Adam and his parents felt so genuine

Flowing seamlessly from reality to dreams and back again gives the film an even greater impact. The conversations between adult Adam and his parents felt so genuine – Dad’s anxiety over showing emotion, Adam coming out and responding to mum’s fears. Even the adult Adam’s climbing into his parents’ bed after not being able to sleep felt incredibly real.

As Haigh said in an interview for Sky News, “so many men are just like lost little boys trapped in adults’ bodies.” The film powerfully conveys what he described as “growing up in the 80s as a gay kid... and how we carry the baggage of that into our adulthood”.

All of us strangersThe impact of losing a parent when you are young is, for many, difficult to comprehend; the child in you is frozen in time, you face a future without the unconditional love to support you through the ups and downs of growing up.

I personally related to this as someone who also suffered childhood bereavement. My dad died suddenly when I was 10. It was only many years later, after a period of psychotherapy, did I come to realise that throughout my adolescence and early adulthood I was nurturing and caring for the 10 year-old me. The day my dad died I went from a carefree child to one with adult responsibilities. I vividly remember frequently being told by neighbours that I needed to behave well and to look after my mother.

Even with the emotional ups and downs, I still came away with a positive feeling about the power of love. This is a film not to be missed.

Lord Collins is a Labour peer

All Of Us Strangers
Written & directed by: Andrew Haigh
Venue: General cinema release

 

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