This week's Hyde Park Pick
HPPH recommends Andrew Haigh's phenomenal All of Us Strangers as the film you can't miss this week
Every month or so I see a film that I really love. Something I’m super excited to recommend to friends, to screen at HPPH and to re-watch again. But when I’m lucky, every year or two, a film comes along that I connect with in ways that are far more personal and profound.
Haunting and exquisitely told, the latest film from acclaimed British filmmaker Andrew Haigh follows writer Adam (Andrew Scott) who, whilst forming an unexpected relationship with a mysterious new neighbour (Paul Mescal), delves into his childhood past, taking him on an emotional journey of acceptance and reconciliation. More about the film here.
Like with Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of A Lady on Fire, and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, All of Us Strangers is a film that managed to get under my skin in ways most other films don’t even come close. For me, every formal element – from the writing and the performances, to the photography and the soundtrack – came together in that most perfect of ways, that only film as a medium can achieve.
That’s not to suggest this is the response everyone will have to the film – after all, what makes a film work is as much about what an individual brings to it as the film itself. This week's snub of All of Us Strangers by the Oscars for example, despite it receiving six BAFTA nominations and winning Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards, demonstrates how differently the film is being received within the awards circuit. That being said, the overwhelmingly positive response from audiences to the film (which has already been released in the US and previewed at LIFF last autumn) suggests that its many intersectional themes – from repressed trauma and queer acceptance, to bereavement and contemporary loneliness, are allowing audiences to connect with the film in a number of uniquely personal ways.
For me, as a gay man in my 30s, who experienced devastating homophobia growing up (both overt and subliminal), and who is still managing the deep-rooted effects of that period today; seeing someone of a similar generation explore the root causes of queer trauma in such a poetic way was both extremely moving and unexpectedly cathartic. And while not all audiences will relate to the film in quite the same way, there will be others who are affected by its themes of grief, or isolation, in ways that I’ll never be able to fully understand.
This ability for a film to work for audiences in a multitude of ways, allowing you to positively engage with what might be bubbling away in your past or buried in your subconscious – on an emotional and therapeutic level – is for me why film is one of the most valuable art forms there is and something that All of Us Strangers does better than almost any other film I’ve seen.
All of Us Strangers is this week’s Hyde Park Pick and plays daily from Friday 26th January. Film information, showtimes and tickets are available here.