Love Is Strange (1999) starring Kate Nelligan, Ron Silver, Julie Harris, Kevin Patrick Walls directed by Annette Haywood-Carter Movie Review

Love Is Strange (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kate Nelligan in Love Is Strange (1999)

It's Complicated

From the start Kathryn (Kate Nelligan) and Tom's (Ron Silver) relationship was unorthodox, frolicking in a boat on their graduation day, Kathryn heavily pregnant on their wedding day as her white wedding dress engulfs her. But having got married straight out of law school things don't last and they divorce although stay in the same town where Tom has his law practice and Kathryn is a judge. But when Tom meets his estranged son he learns to his shock that Kathryn is battling cancer and having spent the last decade keeping out of her way feels drawn back to support her. Tom's return doesn't go down well with Kathryn's mum who thinks allowing him back is a bad thing. The question is that whilst Kathryn and Tom find that there is still love between them their son Michael (Kevin Patrick Walls) has major issues with his father.

On a certain movie website it mentions that "Love Is Strange" is a romantic comedy, well it is more complicated than that as whilst there is romance and comedy there is also the drama of a woman dealing with cancer and her ex dealing with the woman he loves having cancer. It is a strange but not unique combination as there have been other movies which have delivered a drama about cancer mixed with romance and comedy but the one's I have seen have tended to focus on a younger woman dealing with breast cancer not an older woman with a grown up son and so on.

Ron Silver in Love Is Strange (1999)

Now unfortunately for me the attempt to combine the humour and drama doesn't work and only ends up feeling forced and separate but each has their merits. Looking at the more serious aspects of "Love Is Strange" we have at times a thoughtful and hard hitting drama about cancer from Kathryn trying to continue as normal to trying to hide things from her mum to suddenly feeling sick in court. We see how Kathryn's mum is angry at having been kept in the dark to Kathryn's colleagues shock when they discover Kathryn being sick in her bedroom without her wig on.

But then we have the humour side of things from the opening scene of Kathryn and Tom getting it on in a row boat whilst the graduation ceremony is going on to the tension and bickering in the courtroom when Tom discovers Kathryn is the presiding judge on one of his cases. The trouble is we have humour and then we have drama and rarely do the two combine, when they try to combine the two it frequently fails to lighten the mood so to speak. It is a shame as the combination of a comedy with romance and a drama about cancer can be really effective and touching but here the balance is off with everything too isolated although it certainly manages to be touching with some well chosen music to make you well up.

What this all boils down to is that "Love is Strange" is both interesting and entertaining with a real touching side. But the attempt to mix romance, comedy and drama doesn't always work and often sadly feels like it is forcing things in trying to be amusing when just being touching would have worked much better.