All of Us Strangers – movie review

The sensitive fantasy-romance All of Us Strangers concerns two lost souls. Based on a novel by Taichi Yamada, the film is written and directed by Andrew Haigh (Lean on Pete). It’s a reflective, slow-burning and mysterious work.

One night a triggered fire alarm sees screenwriter Adam (Andrew Scott) evacuate his apartment building temporarily. Staring up, he sees only a single illuminated window. Framed against it is a man – Harry (Paul Mescal). Harry sees Adam looking up at him and later takes a chance by knocking on his door and introducing himself. Both men are gay, but Harry is the more forward of the pair.


After an initial false start, their connection is cemented and a relationship develops. Still, both have endured trauma, isolation and, in Adam’s case, bullying. Adam is struggling to deal with the passing of his parents 30 years ago – when he was only 12 years old. He imagines himself reconnecting with his mum (Claire Foy) and dad (Jamie Bell) in the house where he grew up. Although he has aged, his folks haven’t. Adam is warmly welcomed back into their lives and sets about answering their questions as to what has happened in the intervening decades.

That process also reveals a disconnect between Adam and his parents back in the day. Meanwhile, Harry, too, is hiding a deep-seated need.

The events in All of Us Strangers unravel in their own sweet time and patience is rewarded.

Andrew Scott is superb – caring and considered – as the troubled lead. It is a heartfelt performance, where much is deliberately left unsaid. Paul Mescal, too, has layers to his characterisation, imbuing Harry with passion and vulnerability. Claire Foy brings wonderment and humour to her representation of a mother who knows she could have given more. There is internal wrestle within Jamie Bell as he tackles dad’s past inadequacies.

Strong on emotional resonance, All of Us Strangers pinpoints the importance of breaking down barriers and letting others in. Andrew Haigh has imbued his film with a great deal of sensitivity.

Alex First


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