Review: ‘All of Us Strangers’ is a quiet and surreal romance that’s one of the year’s finest films

A new film from Andrew Haigh called All of Us Strangers from Searchlight Pictures is headed to theaters next month. When it comes to gay and queer representation on film, you’ll find the opinions vary wildly on who should be able to represent these characters on the screen. While some advocates for the queer community insist that they need to hire only openly queer actors and actresses for these roles, others are more open to seeing straight performers embody the characters. Whatever your position or thoughts are on this issue, All of Us Strangers is bound to get people talking. 

The film’s two lead stars are Andrew Scott, who is gay, and Paul Mescal, who is not. Whatever your stand is on the debate of representation, what is not up for discussion is the fantastic chemistry between these two. As the film explores the relationship between the two men and the themes of homosexuality and loneliness, a layer of fantasy gets woven into the plot that reminded me of the film Petite Maman by Céline Sciamma a couple of years ago. 

While the ending of All of Us Strangers will leave some viewers frustrated and maybe even perplexed, it’s a wonderful and delicate story full of moments that’ll tug at even the firmest of heartstrings. So, when it finally releases wide in December, don’t be afraid to talk with All Of Us Strangers.

The story of All of Us Strangers

[Editor’s note: There are some spoilers ahead for All of Us Strangers.]

The film opens with a cityscape that we later learn is London; it sits against the deep blue sky of a late twilight sun, the light keeping the city lit just enough for the clouds to imbue the various shades and colors of a beautiful evening. We observe the city, and a double exposure begins to come through of a man’s face and neck; we see him from the side, straight-faced and somber; we slowly start to see the main protagonist, Adam (Andrew Scott.)

Andrew Scott in ALL OF US STRANGERS. Photo by Chris Harris, Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.


After a few moments, the city view cuts, and we’re taken to an apartment. Adam is sitting in front of a laptop; he’s a screenwriter and is starting a new screenplay. He leans forward with his fingers on the keyboard as if he’s about to start typing. Adam lingers there a few moments, but after a while, he sits back in his chair without a single keystroke. We then watch him lying on his couch eating crackers; he finally gets up, goes to the fridge, and looks at a few containers of takeout before extracting one from its shelf and opening it. Through the first few minutes of the introduction, we get a sense of solitude. The music that fades in and out through these moments of All of Us Strangers is ethereal in nature but almost unnoticeable. 

The figure in the window 

Suddenly, with the refrigerator still open, a fire alarm begins to sound loudly. Adam turns his head slightly and stands there momentarily, processing what is happening. Next, we see Adam walking out the door and going outside the tall apartment building behind him; it’s dark now, and the fire alarms continue sounding in the background. The alarm stops as he gets a short distance from his building. He turns back around and looks up. The building is mainly darkened, but our eyes slide to the left. One flat about halfway up is illuminated in a bluish hue; a figure stands at the window and looks down, seemingly at Adam. 

When Adam meets Harry in All of Us Strangers

When Adam returns to his apartment, someone knocks on his door. He opens, and a handsome man with shaggy hair and a mustache stands in his doorway and says, “I saw you looking at me from the street. I’m Harry.” Harry (Paul Mescal) shakes Adam’s hand in a lingering way. The men speak for a minute, with Harry frequently breaking eye contact and looking down awkwardly.

Paul Mescal in ALL OF US STRANGERS. Photo by Chris Harris. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.


Harry offers Adam a drink, motioning to the half-empty bottle of alcohol he’s carrying, which Adam declines, but it’s fair to say that Harry is in a state of intoxication. Harry finally invites himself in, but Adam says, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Their conversation concludes, and Adam walks back and sits on his couch, looking back at the door. The next day, after another failed attempt to begin his screenplay, Adam gets a bin from under his bed and goes through items from his childhood. 

A journey with Adam 

The camera shows us that down below his window, a train is passing by, and the next thing we know, Adam is on a train. The light shines through the trees out the train window, and with his reflection, we get the feeling of tranquility, but the music again gives us a sense of something surreal happening. Adam walks around and finally sees a house. He stands in front of it and holds up an old photo of the same home, and this is the house he grew up in. Adam continues walking after visiting some secluded woods. He closes his eyes in a clearing, and when he opens them, he turns around to see a man by the trees who motions with his head to follow him. 

As we follow Adam on this journey with this man, learn who he is, and progressively uncover more and more information about Adam’s past, the lines between fantasy and reality blur. In between Adam’s visits to his childhood home, he begins a relationship with Harry, and the two men share many intimate moments of connection, filling the void that Adam has had in his life. 

While this aspect of All of Us Strangers may seem to keep it grounded, it keeps flirting with the lines of reality up until the conclusion, and some of the moments of impact it produces along the way are as hard-hitting as any I’ve seen on film this year.

All of Us Strangers is a well-crafted story

All Of Us Strangers, which comes to us from writer/director Andrew Haigh, delivers an extremely well-crafted screenplay from a storytelling perspective, with plot points and reveals coming at regular intervals to maintain viewers’ interest, despite the issues some will take with the ending. 

Haigh’s vision for the film is solid and shines through with the lighting and cinematography of Jamie D. Ramsay. Hues of dark blues in many of the evening shots induce those “magic hour” moments when your mind begins to slip from the grounded reality to the more dreamlike trance state that some film sequences stay in.

All of Us Strangers has amazing chemistry between Scott and Mescal

But alongside the excellent story, the film really hangs its hat on the performances and amazing chemistry between the two leads, Scott and Mescal. To say that I loved Scott’s performance is an understatement. As he interacts with Mescal and the other two main actors, his looks of loneliness, longing, and even despair just broke my heart and are among my favorites of the year. Mescal, too, is incredible, as he portrays a broken and wandering soul that finds some connections with Scott’s character. It was a supporting performance that I also fully bought into.

As I also mentioned briefly, the simple but ethereal music (scored by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch) assisted in transporting us to an alternate reality the film goes to on and off throughout its runtime. Like I mentioned, the ending is the big hangup that will leave some audiences wanting. To me, it felt like an athlete who’s run the ball all the way down the field and then trips right on the goal line. But despite that, there’s an incredible world that Haigh invites us into with themes and moments that all worked very well for me. He delivered a film that resonated strongly with me and that I esteem as one of the year’s finest.

Final thoughts on Haigh’s film

With a generally slower pace, at about an hour and forty-five minutes, All of Us Strangers will keep general audiences and critics alike engaged with the reveals as the story progresses. But during this upcoming holiday season, while All Of Us spend time with family, try to cut out a little time to enjoy the company of these Strangers; you’ll find it to be time well spent.

How to watch All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers will be in theaters nationwide on December 22. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the trailer for the film here. 

Your thoughts on All of Us Strangers

What do you think about All of Us Strangers? Have you watched the movie yet? Join the conversation by commenting below or following us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MoviesWeTexted.

Are you still trying to find something to watch this weekend?  Check out Russell Miller’s thoughts on the new Emma Stone film Poor Things or Emerald Fennel’s SaltburnIf you are in the mood for something edgier, check out what Alise Chaffins had to say about Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving.