All of Us Strangers : Austin Film Festival Review

October 31, 202390/1005 min
Starring
Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy
Written by
Andrew Haigh and Taichi Yanada
Directed by
Andrew Haigh
Run Time
1h 45min
Release Date
January 26th, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

Loneliness is something most of us experience at some point in our lives, but for some, it never seems to go away. The feeling of being wanted and loved is something we all desire, and lacking that in your life can have a significant effect. There have been many movies that tell stories about loneliness, and while films like A Ghost Story and Columbus make their presence felt, I don’t know if I ever felt it more than during All of Us Strangers.

Adam (Andrew Scott) is a writer living in a building outside London with not many other tenants. He is currently about to start a new screenplay that has ignited interest in his own past. After looking through some old pictures, he takes a train to his childhood home, where he encounters his parents, something that shouldn’t be possible since they passed away when he was twelve. Yet, here they are. His mom (Claire Foy) and his dad (Jamie Bell) are there, having a conversation as if they have just been away for all these years. As he spends time catching up with his parents on his life, he also meets what appears to be the only other tenant in his building, a guy named Harry (Paul Mescal), who appears at his door unexpectedly. Between his parents and Harry, life seems pretty full for Adam right now, but things are not exactly what they seem.

Written by Andrew Haigh, adapted from Taichi Yamada’s Strangers from 1987, the movie starts with a fantastic concept: being able to say things to your parents who passed away some thirty years earlier. Who wouldn’t want that choice—to be able to talk to someone no longer with us and to catch up with them? When it comes to that reunited family, Haigh allows the relatable family relationships to shine while not getting caught up in what may be the practical elements of the story. That means you never know if it is real or in his head, and even when he questions if it is real, the response he gets is, “Does it feel real?” From the opening scene, you feel in the air a magical realism, and that feeling stays with you throughout. Regardless of what you see, what Haigh is after is the emotional truth rather than the actual one.

All of Us Strangers is truly something special, as Haigh has delivered a story that wants to be a lot and achieves that in every way. It’s a story about love and the power of remembering, a love story, and a study of loneliness and the weight we carry around with us until we face it. In all this, it’s a quartet of great performances, led by Scott, who delivers an emotionally honest performance. This is a movie that no two people will experience the same way, as Haigh asks us to explore our own connections and experiences that make us whole. Ultimately, this film will touch your soul and unlock your own memories, all while it encourages healing and delivers a story you won’t soon forget.

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