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Andrew Scott takes a trip on a mystery train in "All of Us Strangers." Courtesy Searchlight Pictures

After All of Us Strangers was shut out of the Oscar nominations, I was afraid I would have to relegate it to my annual odds and ends feature. (Stay tuned for that article dropping soon.) However, I’m delighted to report that this British import is opening this weekend at a few multiplexes in our area, and this most unusual of gay coming-out stories is worth a trip.

Andrew Scott portrays a TV writer named Adam who has just rented a flat in a new apartment block in London. One day, at a loose end, he takes the 11-mile train ride to Croydon to visit his supposedly empty childhood home and is stunned to find his parents (Jamie Bell and Claire Foy) there, even though they were killed in a car accident when he was a boy. They, in turn, are only mildly surprised to find their 11-year-old son is now a grown man from the future.

Writer-director Andrew Haigh filmed this movie in his own actual childhood home. He has based the film on Taichi Yamada’s 1987 Japanese novel entitled Strangers. I haven’t read the book, though it appears the homosexual relationship is Haigh’s addition. The British filmmaker is particularly keen when he addresses gay subjects like he did in his debut feature Weekend. He’s best known for his hetero movie 45 Years, which I find his least interesting one.

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Here Adam gets to do something he wasn’t able to do when his parents were alive, which is come out to them. This part of the film is deeply moving, as Adam’s working-class parents struggle to understand how Adam has turned out this way and fear that he will contract AIDS, possibly because they’re stuck in the 1990s. Adam eventually realizes that as much as he loves his parents, his repeated visits to them threaten to trap him in the past. His final conversation with them is rending, not least because it takes place in a vision of the afterlife as a cheesy themed diner festooned with American flags.

There’s a whole other half of the film with Adam falling in love with Harry (Paul Mescal), who appears to be the only other person living in his building. Much as I find to like about these two actors, this plotline is alarmingly close to filler for much of its screen time. It only takes flight at the end, as Haigh pulls back from them to the sounds of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “The Power of Love” to reveal a tableau that shows that their relationship isn’t quite what it appears. I’ll admit I’m not really sure what it means, but it makes an excellent discussion point about where and what the men actually are. Whatever it is, it is transcendent stuff that puts a unique twist on gay romance from a deceptively innovative filmmaker.

All of Us Strangers
Starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal. Written and directed by Andrew Haigh, based on Taichi Yamada’s novel. Rated R.

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