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Film review of All of us strangers 2024

London Film Festival: ‘All Of Us Strangers’ Review

Director: Andrew Haigh

Writers: Andrew Haigh, based on the novel by Taichi Yamada

Starring: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy

Where to Watch: Coming to UK Cinemas on 26th January 2024

Our Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A meditation on the consequences of grief, All Of Us Strangers is a time-slipping, supernatural drama like you’ve never seen before. Adapted from the 1987 Japanese novel by Taichi Yamada, Andrew Haigh transposes the Tokyo-set story into contemporary London, using the concept to explore the sanctity of childhood love, loss, and desperation over the more dark excavations that the novel takes. In All Of Us Strangers, we meet Adam (Andrew Scott), a gay man on the precipice of middle age, as he procrastinates through his work as a scriptwriter and seeks solace in sentimentalities of his childhood. He listens to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, moving around his new apartment — a new build tower block probably somewhere around Nine Elms — and he struggles to reckon with the profound consequences of his parents’ deaths when he was twelve years old. He’s brooding, lonely, and when a roguish man, Harry (Paul Mescal) approaches him, the two enter into a turbulent and tricky relationship. 

Buoyed by Harry’s new presence in his life, Adam returns to his old neighbourhood, somewhere near Croydon, that he grew up in. As he arrives, however, he discovers that his mum (Claire Foy) and dad (Jamie Bell) are still alive and living in this old, childhood home of his. The home is as gauche as it was in the mid-80s and his parents have not aged since the day they died; they greet him with a charming bemusement, as though he’d come back a little late from a drink with a few mates. It’s this magic-realism that allows Haigh and his stellar cast to truly excavate the turmoil of young grief as it matures into adulthood whilst also evoking the experience of queer children and their relationship with their parents. Adam all at once seeks out their comfort whilst navigating the distance between them; he cuddles up in their bed but they’re not given names. Their homophobia isn’t hatred, no, rather a sense of ignorance that feels reflexive of parents of this period — similarities to Georgia Oakley’s debut Blue Jean earlier this year are easy to spot, though both tackle Thatcherite era homophobia through different lenses. 

There is a hopefulness in All Of Us Strangers that permeates beyond the supernatural scope. Childlike, naive, and dreamy, it may be quashed as reality sets in, but for the brief, unfiltered moments of it, we can truly believe, as Adam tells his mother, that “everything is different now.”