Of the titles from Hollywood’s golden age that aren’t broadly recognized as classics but really ought to be, Make Way for Tomorrow is on the short list—no arguments brooked. Leo McCarey, a director with a notable human touch, crafted this 1937 masterpiece from a simple story about two long-married folks forced to live apart when their money runs out and their grown children prove inept at compassionate problem-solving. This outline proves remarkably durable in Love Is Strange, a new film that finds an ingenious variation on the same story. Here, the couple has not been married long, but they’ve been together for 39 years; in fact, it’s the gift of their marriage that inadvertently causes the unwanted separation.
Meet Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), whose cohabitation stretches back long before same-sex marriage was a realistic goal.
What was it about the book, â€œFive Roundabouts to Heaven,â€ that made you say: â€œThis is my next project.â€?
Iâ€™ve always been interested in psychological stories and character-driven stories. Right before I started working on this, Iâ€™d seen a lot of Joan Crawford movies and Bette Davis movies and Barbara Stanwyck movies and Fred MacMurray movies, a kind of old-fashioned storytelling that was usually over-the-top and larger-than-life in terms of the plot, but something about them really resonated for me personally. So I decided thatâ€™s what I wanted to do, I wanted to make one of those kinds of films without being a retro film. I just liked the way those stories were told. I spent a summer reading old pulp mysteries. People often say that you can make a movie out of a pulp fiction better than a movie out of a classic and I think there is some reason for that because thereâ€™s something more you can play with. And what I liked about this book particularly was that in the course of the story, when you learn more about each of the characters, you realize that, at its heart, itâ€™s a really humanist story about relationships. Even though itâ€™s a genre film, itâ€™s also a humanist film. What I thought was quite true about the emotional stakes of these people within their marriages, even again if itâ€™s over the top in its structure, it resonated for me personally within my own relationships.