All of Us Strangers becomes an essay on grief, loneliness, acceptance and closure!

Sakshi Sharma
New Update
All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal's film All of Us Strangers is a profoundly intimate story that takes every viewer through a lived-in experience to reflect on their own journey! 

Every once in a while, we come across a film that feels like a watching experience where we aren't able to move even after the credits start rolling. All of Us Strangers is precisely that! It's one of those films that feel like one giant soul-crushing hug! This fantasy romance uses magical realism to talk about grief that remains a part of you even after losing someone years ago, taking time to say goodbye to find closure and reigning in acceptance to make peace with things. Most of all, it deals with the inherent loneliness that comes with it all. 

Adam (Andrew Scott), a screenwriter, lives in an apartment by himself in a London tower. Apart from him, only one other person inhabits another space in the empty building - Harry (Paul Mescal). Out of sheer loneliness, they find solace in each other's company. On another front, Adam also reconnects with his parents as he visits his childhood home. This is a film where describing the story's plot is hard because it is based more on the character's journey and experience and how you as audience interact with it. Though the film's first few minutes become very important as it is an establishing point for the rest of story.

The film is a series of Adam's life, living alone and conversing with people, making you reflect on your own life. Living off the sofa, barely bathing, eating junk or leftovers, watching something random, and sleeping on and off is how most of us lonely, suburban, isolated beings prefer to live, just like Adam, when we live alone, especially after the pandemic. It is scary because it is not just about living with yourself but also about living with that constant feeling of loneliness. Hence, when Harry asks to spend a night with Adam, talking about how he leaves his TV on low volume just to have a sense of people living with him, you can see how his fear of being alone is chipping away at him and making him desperate for company. 

In this film, everything acts as a device/tool to further Adam's experiences, which in turn becomes something everyone can connect to. Like him being a screenwriter, writing about his parents, becomes an act of finding time to say a proper goodbye to them. Thirty years ago, when Adam was just twelve years old, he went to sleep without saying goodbye to his parents, who went out, and never returned as they both died in a horrific car accident. Hence it is almost poetic because it is always in fiction that we try to achieve some resolution and closure with people, especially the ones who have left our lives. This reconnection becomes cathartic for Adam and the audience because what wouldn't you give to return to those times spent with your loved ones? 

Also Read: Big Girls Don't Cry review: A Gen Z, coming of age tale of sisterhood with a millennial beating heart!

Similarly, homosexuality also works as a device. When Harry opens up about how his being queer/gay makes him feel like a stranger within his own family where he's close yet distant from them and hence he's always lonely, Adam can relate. Because even after thirty years, the larger part of him not making peace with his parent's death is also because he never got a chance to come out to his parents. So when he finally does, it lifts a heavy weight off him and helps him fully accept himself, which is reflected on his relationship with Harry. The more he accepts himself, the more vulnerable and open he becomes with Harry. And tbh, being different than the rest, whether you're queer or not, has made a lot of us feel like strangers within our families, nurturing and harboring many secrets in silos. 

The film oscillates between fiction and reality, with the camera being a fly on the wall, staying in one place, reflecting and taking in everything while going close. The shift in editing and lighting helps with the transitional flow of the film. It's as if Andrew Haigh (the filmmaker) wants to leave what is real and what's a fantasy to the audiences. When Adam visits his childhood house and his parents, the time shifts back to the 80s because that's the last time he has seen his parents alive. That is why his mother's rejection of him being gay is understandable, as she is scared for the struggles that she thinks his future holds or his father's guilt of his past behavior, as in a heartfelt moment shared between the two of them he understands that Adam wasn't just bullied outside of home but inside as well.

This also makes the relationship between Adam and Harry like that first whirlwind of a passionate teenage romance because even though Adam is interacting with everything in his forties, he is still resolving issues he has been carrying since he was twelve. And to see such a large man cocooned between his parents or in their laps, begging them not to leave him, is a highly touching moment because no matter how old you might get, that sense of comfort of a parent's lap and the absence of it or them, it's a grief that can never be matched! No wonder when the gut-wrenching yet anticipated twist about Harry's death comes forward, Adam cocoons him to provide him with the same sense of comfort. After all, no one deserves to die alone and should be found if only to let go of with a touch of love and companionship. 

This intensely personal, cinematic and brilliant piece about nostalgia, unfulfilled experiences, tackling emotional obstacles, and the power of love is a journey wotrth taking. As the camera zoomed out with Adam and Harry cocooned, and the stars in the dark sky started to twinkle with mellow music, I was left remembering Dumbledore's response to Harry when the latter asked him about imagining things or them being real: “Of course, it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”. Because even if this was a figment of Adam's imagination or just his script, I, as a stranger and lonesome writer, am full of this long-lasting, profound, bewitchingly seraphic sensory, enthralling experience. And with this piece, I'm just trying to find that comfort, solace, and cathartic understanding of the film as well as of myself! 

For more binge-centric content and reviews, follow us on @socialketchupbinge.

andrew scott Paul Mescal andrew haigh all of us strangers review