Love Is Strange, But Not Fun to Watch

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The title Love Is Strange may lead you to mentally
conjure up a kicky pop tune from the early 1960s, but Lifetime Television's original
film of the same name has none of that charm or lightness. Instead, it's a miscast
disease-of-the-week movie that's not much fun to watch.

Even with a long lens and soft focus, it's tough to
buy Kate Nelligan (Kathryn) and Ron Silver (Tom) as hippie 20-somethings at the beginning
of the film. It's even a stretch to envision them as long-haired young parents, even
with the best of wigs.

But you know that you're in trouble when a movie
tagged as a tale of love, divorce and redemption devotes about 10 minutes to the first two
topics and about 40 minutes to a lingering death.

Idealistic law-school grads Kathryn and Tom got married
just after school, seemingly because Kat was nine months pregnant. Even though they
divorced 10 years later, we're supposed to believe that this set the stage for a
lifelong bond.

But everything that we're shown runs contrary to that:
They're questioning each other as they deliver their wedding vows; they snipe at one
another; and he's never been a favorite of her mother. Similarly, Kat is supposed to
be a great friend. But in her face-to-face scenes with them, she's snippy and
evasive.

The crux of the drama is that Kat discovers that her cancer
has come roaring back. She'd told no one about her first round of chemotherapy (and
with all of those close friends, no one noticed?). When she's finally outed during
her second, experimental treatment, she rejects a hot new lover in favor of the man that
she detests.

No one gets much depth of character here, although Julie
Harris, as Kat's mother, gets a bit more business to play (she's marked
everything in her house for postmortem distribution).

This dour telefilm reaches its nadir at its conclusion.
It's supposed to be a bonding moment between estranged father and son, but we found
bizarre a scene in which they disagree over whether it's legal to drive in the
high-occupancy-vehicle lane with Kat's dead body in the back of the car.

Love Is Strange will debut on Lifetime tonight (Feb. 8)
at 9 p.m.

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