All Of Us Strangers(Mubi)

Starring Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy

Written & Directed by Andrew Haigh

Rating: ****

Is this a ghost film? Or a queer love story? Is it for real? Or is it a dream? Like all exemplary works of art, All Of Us Strangers leaves us with a wealth of emotions, all indicating a work of art that is extraordinary in its emotional heft and existential resonances.

All Of Us Strangers has an impenetrable dreamlike quality. It is at heart an elegy on loneliness and also a profoundly moving meditation on bereavement. It features the exceptionally wise Irish actor Andrew Scott as Adam, a writer in London living a life of isolation in an apartment block that is eerily emptied out.

The creation of an all-pervasive sense of seclusion is tangible and frightening. Adam, we soon realize, is grieving. A knock on his door by a neighbour drunken Harry(Paul Mescal) who invites him into Adams’s head and bed, could change Adam’s life from just gay to happy. But Adam rebuffs Harry’s overture.

This denial of potential happiness is providential to the plot. It seems to define every move that this enigmatic tragedy makes as Adam’s destiny coils and recoils in a series of chance encounters that are real to Adam but not real outside his imagination.

Clues to Adam’s psychological meltdown are strewn in the beautifully crafted screenplay(there is an equally enchanting Japanese film The Discarnates based on the same source material). We just have to look for it.

Early indications that all is not as well as its seems with Adam are given in his words and action. Early on Adam tells Harry that his parents died when he was 12. Soon we see Adam “visiting” his parents, played by two very fine British actors Claire Foy and Jamie Bell.

Adam sees them the way he remembers them as a child.They meet him as though he has grown up while they were not looking.Significantly the mother has a more prominent role (Foy who played the Queen in The Crown is fabulous) in Adam’s perception.

I especially loved the long sequence where he tells her about his sexual orientation. She doesn’t hide her shock and disgust. She is a mother of the 1980s. She gets up from the table where the two are talking and throws her coffee in the sink.

The sinking feeling hits us hard when Adam’s parents tell him they won’t return again. The look of anguish and terror in Adam’s eyes will haunt me forever.

All Of Us Strangers is a modern tragedy. It tells us of the havoc that loneliness can play on the sensitive mind .It also tells us that there is no real remedy for loneliness. In Adam’s eyes we see what we all know.The comfort and warmth of love and togetherness don’t last.What remains is the silence and solitude.And the mind games. Of those frigging mindgames.