John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Charlie Tahan


Ira Sachs


Running time:

94 mins


M (offensive language)

Verdict: Fine acting in a slight but affecting ensemble piece.

Pitch-perfect acting and a fine control of high emotion that never slips into treacly sentiment distinguish this small and lovely ensemble piece by writer-director Ira Sachs, who gave us 2008's memorable dark farce, Married Life.

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are perfectly cast as Ben and George, Manhattanites who mark 40 years together by getting married. When they post honeymoon pictures on Facebook, it proves one affront too many for the Catholic school where Ben teaches music, and he's let go.

The screenplay's a little vague on why late-life matrimony would prompt these longtime lovers to abandon the sedate discretion of many years. Likewise, it's not clear why Ben's sudden joblessness forces them to sell, rather than simply rent out, their apartment, but either way, they have to separate to stay with friends: Ben heads downstairs to the home of a party-loving cop couple and George decamps to Brooklyn to stay with his workaholic nephew and and his neurotic writer wife (Marisa Tomei).

The conflict that develops, particularly in the latter household, is never overplayed: the piece, which has a pleasingly theatrical flavour to it, is more about revealing character than advancing plot anyway.

How it all will all play out is pretty plainly signalled by the film's mid-point, but the last 10 minutes, which rely on a terrific turn from Charlie Tahan as the nephew's son, are beautifully and touchingly realised. Well worth a look.

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