All the beautiful ways in which All Of Us Strangers will break your heart

Nominated for six BAFTAs including Best British Film, All Of Us Strangers is a haunting evocation of loneliness, melancholy and connection. Written and directed by Andrew Haigh, it's an adaptation of Taichi Yamada's novel Strangers and showcases a rare leading man film role for Andrew Scott (himself the recipient of a BAFTA nod).

Living on his own in a deserted London apartment block, Scott's struggling, isolated writer Adam is attempting to translate the early loss of his parents into a film script. Two seismic things then happen to turn his life around: he meets and falls for fellow tenant Harry (Paul Mescal) before returning to his childhood home to find his parents alive in their 30s at the same age when they died.

What then unfolds is a beautiful and enveloping story of one man's search for meaning to mediate the impact of long-standing grief. The movie is buoyed by excellent performances across the board, including Claire Foy and Jamie Bell as Adam's parents, and Haigh's intuitive knack for depicting queer relationships on screen, something that distinguished his 2011 breakout film Weekend.

With the movie on release at Cineworld from January 26th, here are all the beautiful ways that All Of Us Strangers Will break your heart. Who says sadness is a bad thing when it's rendered as atmospherically as this?

1. Andrew Scott's career-best performance

As mentioned, it's relatively unusual for Andrew Scott to take the lead in a movie. It's something he does regularly on stage (see his recent production of Vanya, based on Chekov's Uncle Vanya) but in the movies, he more often provides scene-stealing support, from Pride (2014) to Spectre (2015) and 1917 (2019).

All Of Us Strangers, however, allows movie audiences to see the full range of Scott's acting abilities. If he's largely been defined by Sherlock's sneering villain Moriarty or 'Hot Priest' from Fleabag, his turn as the quietly grieving and introverted Adam is a masterclass in peeling back the onion layers without ever resorting to histrionics.

Scott fashions a character that everyone will surely be able to recognise on some level. Adam is a man suffering from inner pain and yet unable to communicate this flaw, which has caused him to shut himself off from the outside world. That makes his eventual emotional liberation, brought on by the interactions with both Harry and his parents, so heart-filling to watch.


2. The pitch-perfect use of the Pet Shop Boys' cover 'Always On My Mind'

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe's synth-pop take of the popular 1972 hit defined the late-eighties generation. The track's resonant vocals and cascading synths mesh perfectly with the melancholic tone of All Of Us Strangers, acting as an implicit commentary on the movie's themes of memory, loss and heartache.

The song features in the movie's trailer, where it fades to a breathless synth finish, but even more importantly it turns up during a pivotal scene in the movie itself. We won't give away the context but the superb use of the song both defines the period context in which it appears and also externalises Adam's ongoing journey to spiritually reconnect with his late parents.

There's an equally devastating use of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'The Power of Love', which we absolutely won't give away. Just take a hankie into Cineworld with you.


3. A moving story that makes us yearn for the impossible

To lose one's parents is the apex of all tragedies, but what if one could get that time back? Haigh, in line with Yamada's source novel, ably dramatises the aching and beautiful potential of a wish shared by millions of people across the world.

What makes the drama even more striking is the lack of explanation as to why it's occurring. Adam appears to stumble through an invisible time loop where his parents are already waiting to receive him, and this objective treatment of an impossible situation grounds the film's metaphysical gestures in recognisable emotion.

It helps that two of the UK's finest actors do a typically strong job of portraying Adam's parents. Claire Foy stands out as the mother during a scene where Adam's confession about his queer sexuality crosses the divide between the more dismissive discourse of the late 1980s when she died, and the relatively more upfront dialogue of the present day.

Jamie Bell, meanwhile, grabs hearts as Adam's father, delivering a guilt-ridden confession scene that is designed to heal wounds across the fabric of time. Again, we stress that you might need tissues.


4. Gorgeous visuals that radiate emotional awakening

All Of Us Strangers is rapturously filmed by Haigh and cinematographer Jamie D. Ramsay. The latter has swiftly racked up some impressive credits including the Bill Nighy drama Living, adapted from Akira Kurosawa's 1952 classic Ikiru, and the Mousetrap-themed murder mystery comedy See How They Run. (He was also, interestingly, responsible for the documentary footage in Neil Blomkamp's acclaimed sci-fi allegory District 9.)

Ramsay's work on All Of Us Strangers is integral to our understanding of Adam, his initial iciness and his eventual thawing in the wake of unlikely circumstances. The initial stages of the film are appropriately rendered in chilly blue hues with much emphasis on the glass and metal of the modern world that separates us from vital connections.

As the film progresses, Ramsay interlaces the warmer, more organic tones of Adam's childhood home with the vibrant red strobing effects of a nightclub where Adam and Harry seal their bond. This is a movie that speaks on both sonic and visual levels to convey a powerful musical awakening.


5. The slow-burn chemistry between Scott and Mescal

Fleabag alone confirmed Scott's ability to send the internet into meltdown. Pair him with social media's hottest new boyfriend Paul Mescal and you're bound to get fireworks. The latter has exploded onto the scene in recent years following acclaimed and award-winning appearances in the likes of Normal People and Aftersun.

Before Mescal's career goes properly stratospheric with Gladiator 2, ensure you take the time to enjoy the understated yet passionate on-screen heat shared between him and Scott. Credit must go to Andrew Haigh whose ability to foreground both physical intimacy and a more intangible sense of emotional connection has never been in any doubt.

Weekend was our first big-screen exposure to Haigh's skill with queer relationships as it explored the intense yet sadly curtailed relationship between two men over the weekend of its title. Haigh's small-screen series Looking and its subsequent film adaptation also took a refreshingly frank look at male connection.

All Of Us Strangers builds on these earlier success stories, evoking a palpable sense of touch and also the wistful pain of something that is absent.

All Of Us Strangers is released at Cineworld on January 26th. Click the link below to book your tickets.