Ben & George have been together forever but are newly married. Their wedding is small and joyous, and also the catalyst for George’s dismissal from the catholic school where he teaches music. They can’t afford their home on Ben’s pension alone, and the two suddenly find themselves homeless. Friends and family scramble to take them in but this being New York City, where no apartment is bigger than a breadbox, Ben and George are separated. This is a love story that shows us how patient and enduring love must be. With no prospects in sight, people who were happy to toast them at their wedding are less happy to share their homes. There’s chafing on both ends (Ben clashes with his nephew’s wife, played by Marisa Tomei, when they’re both trying to work from a cramped home every day). They feel displaced and disoriented; their hosts feel increasingly put-upon. It’s sad and sweet and melodic – the soundtrack is divinely full of Chopin.
Director Ira Sachs is slow and meandering. It’s painful to watch the tenderness and the intimacy decline into homelessness and despondency. Just when they’ve vowed to share their lives with each other, they can no long afford to share so much as a bed. This is a pretty bittersweet movie, more universal than you may think. The husbands grapple with their emotional health, and aging, and navigating the strange and complicated NY housing market, which is what finally made me realize how mis-titled this movie is. Their love is a lot of things, but it is never strange.