Our resident king of wistful romance is back, as the first trailer for Paul Mescal’s All of Us Strangers, a surrealist love story directed by Andrew Haigh, has been released. The trailer opens with Mescal’s Harry meeting Adam—played Andrew Scott of Hot Priest fame—with whom he quickly develops an intense relationship with, the kind where Adam shares traumatic events from his past like the tragic passing of his parents when he was a preteen.
The plot summary describes a chance encounter between Adam and his “mysterious neighbor Harry. “As a relationship develops between them, Adam is preoccupied with memories of the past and finds himself drawn back to the suburban town where he grew up, and the childhood home where his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), appear to be living, just as they were on the day they died, 30 years before.”
This kind of surreal, sci-fi/fantasy-tinged romance story has become increasingly popular, with films like A Ghost Story and Landscape with Invisible Hand earning critical praise. The trailer’s tender approach to intergenerational relationships also recalls Celine Sciamma’s Petite Maman, which focused on the bond between a mother and her young daughter.
All of us Strangers is “loosely adapted” from a 1987 novel by Taichi Yamada, which was previously adapted into an acclaimed horror movie called The Discarnates in Japan shortly after its release. The film looks characteristically gorgeous for Haigh, and sees Mescal striking a signature tone of tender and troubled.
In an August Vanity Fair feature on the making of the movie, Haigh praised both Mescal and Scott for their commitments to the roles and the intimacy that the script required. “There was chemistry between the two of them literally the second I saw them together,” Haigh said. “Both of them were pretty fearless. There was no sense of them being afraid of approaching those scenes.”
Early reviews for All of Us Strangers have been highly positive, with outlets like Variety praising the film for sidestepping tearjerker conventions and the movie’s “dreamy liminal tone.” The Guardian gave the movie five stars, as Peter Bradshaw cited the acting work by the four leads, including Claire Foy and Jamie Bell as Adam’s parents—he also noted that the movie’s climactic scene may be polarizing for viewers.
Mescal’s acting slate is packed, including leading the thriller A Spy By Nature, the lead role in Richard Linklater’s Merrily We Roll Along, and headlining the stacked cast of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel. All of Us Strangers will be released on December 22.