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Spoiler alert, don't read if you don't want it ruined.

All of Us Strangers is being reviewed as a movie that deals with the trauma of being gay in the 80s, which is certainly present in the movie; but I don't think it is the core issue. Adam, our protagonist, is a writer. Not a "real" writer, he explains, but someone who writes scenes for scripts. Adam lives in an imaginary world of what-ifs, scenes replayed and re-edited over and over again.

In his loneliness, he imagines a reunion with his parents who both died when he was 11. Adam is an unreliable narrator. Does he leave his home to visit his childhood home? Does he talk to the living ghosts of his parents? How much is his imagination? In a conversation with his mom he tells her how he imagined all the things they did when she didn't die. They went on holidays. She asks if they ever made it to Disneyland. He says yes and describes the week they spent together, the weather, the fights.

The core trauma of the movie is the unbearable loneliness and escaping into a world of imagination. Adam is gay in the 80s. His mom worries, "isn't being gay a lonely life?" Everything in the 80s was how homosexuality was a sickness. It wasn't love. They are dangerous and unhappy people. With AIDS, the act of human contact when from just stigmatized to possibly suicidal. In this world, Adam learned that he was unlovable. The only place he can find connection is in the moments he scripts for himself.

The movie's bleak and etherial soundscape keep everything eerie and almost clinically distant. It tries to provoke emotions, and you can feel scenes deliberating punching for heart strings; but they all land flat because of the hazy distance of everything. It never quit hits joy, connection, or lose. It feels like numbed nostalgia. If anything, I left with profound melancholy.