January 11, 2024 – A lonely gay man meets another gay man, but has trouble with his new relationship, because he needs to reconcile with his estranged parents. It would seem like a normal story, except there are troubling signs about the veracity of the story, signs that keep becoming more troubling.
This has all the markings of a horror movie, without the blood. The central character is a lonely screenwriter, Adam (played by Andrew Scott of “Catherine Called Birdy”) who lives in a towering apartment building with few other residents. One night, there is a knock at the door. He opens it to find a stranger, who happens to be another gay man, Harry (Paul Mescal of “Aftersun”) with a bottle of booze, who wants to visit. Uncomfortable, Adam declines Harry's request and sends him away.
After a few days, Adam changes his mind and decides to invite Harry in for a visit. They become friends and then lovers. There are some graphic sex scenes between the two. One day, Adam tells Harry about his family. He says his parents are both dead, killed in a traffic accident when he was a youth. He was home alone when two police officers came to the door to inform him of the death of his parents.
Although Adam says he has moved on from this childhood trauma, it becomes increasingly obvious that he has never recovered from the loss of his parents. Then, one day, he returns to his childhood hometown and meets his parents. What is going on here? Why did he lie to Harry about his parents?
There is also something very strange about his parents (played by Jamie Bell of “Rocketman” and Claire Foy of “Women Talking”). They seem far too young to be his parents, and they also seem to be unaware of recent social developments. There seems to have been no contact between Adam and his parents for years, and they are unaware that he is gay.
As the narrative goes on, it takes on a Twilight Zone kind of vibe as things just keep getting stranger, especially when Adam takes Harry on a trip to see his parents. More is revealed when Adam goes to visit Harry in Harry's apartment.
As I watched this movie, I kept coming up with possible explanations for what is really happening in this movie, because it became obvious that something was going besides what is being shown on the surface. There are deep waters stirring below that surface.
The screenplay, by writer-director Andrew Haigh (“Weekend”) based on a 1987 novel, “Stranger,” by Taichi Yamada, is compelling, and very clever, with some surprising twists. I don't care for horror movies, but this one (which is equally a psychological drama) is an exceptional one. The acting, by Scott, Mescal, Bell and Foy is outstanding, and the production values are perfect. This film rates an A.
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