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Thursday, July 24, 2014


(Alfred Molina &John Lithgow)

(artSMart reviewer Pranesh Maharaj is covering the Durban International Film Festival.

I just wanted more out of this story and this film didn’t give me that. (Review by Pranesh Maharaj)

Featured on the current Durban International Film Festival is Love is Strange, directed by Ira Sachs who wrote the screenplay with Maurichio Zacharias. The cinematographer is Christos Voudouris. The cast features John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Jackson Cheyenne, Manny Perez and Darren Burrows

Very strong subject matters were not dealt with effectively in this production. All it told me is that life goes on. You know how many stories have told me that already? Whenever something happens in a movie, you want it resolved - for yourself, that is. Like if a knife was used on somebody, the resultant effect or expected outcome will be a person lying in hospital seriously injured or the audience will be attending a funeral. I am wondering if the writer tried to steer our minds away from that ‘want’.

Forgive me for still expecting my desired results at the risk of being rendered useless to review. Gay marriages and rights are a topical issue and at one point I thought it was about that. Then I thought that it was about this teenager, but it wasn’t. Then I thought that it had something to do with love and fidelity but that notion was dispelled as well.

In my opinion, the writer did not desire an outcome from the script. Maybe she looked for it elsewhere in the movie; but certainly not the script. Excellent acting by all the leads. Brilliant photography. Revered actors make up the cast. I just wanted more out of this story and this film didn’t give me that. The issue of gay marriages was left untouched until Alfred Molin’s character reads out aloud a letter to his students over the background score played by his young student, pictured on the pupils of his former school. Did you say…’what?’

I heard someone saying as we exited the cinema “A nice slice of life”; but if you are giving me that, I want it to be edible. In storytelling, one is required to sacrifice the obvious and state the thread. There were too many places where this was reversed. I could have done with shorter shots and lesser build-up by the lens and a lot more storytelling. But then; there is no story here.

So, the men get married. He loses his job because of it. They have to sell up and are split into two different households until they are able to settle down. A few more things happen after that. I wanted to feel sorry for one of the leads; really sorry, but the film didn’t allow me that. Perhaps too much emphasis was placed on the rest of the ensemble for us to concentrate on the main characters and their journey. I can only deduce that Ira Sachs was trigger happy with the camera in this project. All that said; go watch it if you like to go “Awe” every now and then. – Pranesh Maharaj

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films on the Festival are available free at cinemas, and other public information outlets. Full festival details can also be found on or by calling 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1816.

The 35th Durban International Film Festival is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KZN (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the College of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, KZN Department of Economic Development & Tourism, KZN Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KZN Department of Arts and Culture and range of other valued partners.