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Telluride Film Review: ‘All of Us Strangers’ is a Deeply Moving and Personal Work That Will Mean Different Things to Different People

Full disclosure: All of Us Strangers was a hard movie for me to watch. More so than anything playing at the Telluride Film Festival, this one was a struggle for me. It doesn’t have anything to do with quality, either, but content. Without getting into spoilers (or anything beyond the basic plot synopsis below), having lost my mother suddenly this year played heavily into some of the scenes here hitting me like a ton of bricks. Just keep that in mind as you read the rest of this review. It was a hard sit, albeit one that was ultimately rewarding.

All of Us Strangers will speak to its audience in a number of ways. Parents, romantic partners, whomever you’ve struggled with despite loving, this movie will bring up a lot. It’s intentional, and doesn’t do it with malice, but even with that soft touch, it does cut deep. So, just keep that in mind. Provided you’re not overtly sensitive to that, this film will strike you as incredibly well realized, if not quite as personal.

Searchlight Pictures

Adam (Andrew Scott) is a screenwriter living in an almost empty London apartment tower. One evening, Adam meets his mysterious neighbor Harry (Paul Mescal). Harry’s bold nature disrupts the lonely but seemingly rigid rhythm of Adam’s day to day life. The next time, however, Adam meets Harry’s interest, leading to a relationship to begin forming.

While that is progressing, something else is happening. Adam has been deeply focused on memories of his past, which in turn has led him to go back to visit the suburban town where he grew up, as well as his childhood home. There, he finds, incredibly, his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), who died 30 years prior. Not only do they appear to be alive, they look just as they did on their final day on Earth. They’re as happy to see him as he is to see them, giving all involved a chance to say some things that were never said. How it all ties together I’ll leave for you to discover, but bring the tissues.


Searchlight Pictures

Andrew Scott is best in show, though all four of the main characters are solid. Scott has the most screen time and has to go to the biggest places, but he does it with just the right amount of subtlety. Paul Mescal is a bit more stock of a character, but he realizes him with a ton of specificity. As for Jamie Bell and Claire Foy, they’ll just straight up break your heart. The scenes with Bell, Foy, and Scott are where this film really wrecked me. They’re really the only ones of note here, though they’re more than enough.

Filmmaker Andrew Haigh is clearly telling a deeply personal story. I connected more with Adam and his parents than Adam and Harry, but it could be the inverse for some. Haigh’s direction is a little obtuse at times, but his script is tender and on point, balancing things out. Things are a bit rough early on, but third act is a three hanky weep-fest, though somehow never manipulative. Haigh has something to say about grief and manages to say it in a different way than most would opt for.

All of Us Strangers is hitting people like a ton of bricks. When you see it, you’ll know why. Even if the movie didn’t fully destroy me like some of my colleagues here at Telluride, the parts that did were like a nuclear blast of emotion. It takes a special talent to do that, so kudos to Andrew Haigh for that. It’s a film you won’t soon forget.

SCORE: ★★★


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Written by Joey Magidson

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