Directed by: Andrew Haigh
Written by: Andrew Haigh
Starring: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy
Released: January 18, 2024
Grade: B+

All of Us Strangers

A heartfelt drama with a splash of the supernatural.  All of Us Strangers, the latest from British director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years), is as interesting as it is unusual.  It is centred on Adam (Scott), a gay, middle-aged writer who lives in a largely vacant (weird) high-rise apartment building.  He lives alone and has ample time to be working on a new screenplay, but motivation and inspiration are low.

There are only three people Adam interacts with during the film’s 105-minute running time.  The first is Harry (Mescal), a fellow resident who drunkenly knocks on his door one night and not-so-subtly makes his move.  Adam rebuffs Harry’s flirtatious advances at first (he’s lacking self-confidence) but it’s not long before the pair are sleeping together and opening up about their troubled past and complicated present.

The other two people are Adam’s father (Bell) and mother (Foy)… who died in a car accident when he was 12 years old.  For reasons which are never explained, and perhaps they don’t need to be, Adam’s parents have reappeared as ghost-like figures.  Over the course of several encounters, Adam brings them up to speed with the past few decades.  His sexuality becomes a key talking point.  His folks grew up in a different era and their responses reflect those from the 1980s (the AIDS epidemic was front and centre) as opposed to more progressive Western societies of today.

It’s a curious concept.  If you had the chance to spend a fleeting moment with deceased relatives, how would you spend the time?  Would you ask questions of them, or would you prefer them to ask questions of you?  Would the conversation delve into the deeply personal, or would you talk more generally about world events and changes?  In the case of Adam, would you be honest about how his parents died if asked?

Yes, the premise is fairy tale-like but the interactions between Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot), and Claire Foy (The Crown) are wonderful.  They may not have seen each other for a long time but basic family instincts soon come to the forefront – the parents offering love, advice and nourishment, while the son does his best to please them.  I wasn’t as invested in the romantic subplot involving Paul Mescal (Aftersun) but will acknowledge its value to the film as a whole.

There are small lulls in places (you want to see the narrative move quicker) but All of Us Strangers still takes on a worthy, reflective journey.