Review: All of Us Strangers


A man sits alone in his flat stories above the ground. The window reveals a city teeming with life, but the man can’t see or hear anyone. The man has no family and all his friends have moved away. He rejects a handsome stranger who is also buckling under the weight of loneliness. He doesn’t let anyone in – it’s easier to deny companionship than to have it forcibly taken from you.

Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers is an exploration of what it means to hold on. Memories, grief, and loneliness are not only essential to Adam’s journey but connected with many queer people’s reality. In a world where queer lives are criminalized and marginalized, Haigh insists that we must choose to seek out connections and reject loneliness.

All of Us Strangers | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

All of Us Strangers
Director: Andrew Haigh

Release Date: December 22, 2023 (US Theatrical)
Rating: R

All of Us Strangers, based on the novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada, introduces us to Adam (Andrew Scott). Living alone in a mostly empty high-rise apartment building, Adam spends his time writing scripts and keeping to himself. One night his young and handsome neighbor, Harry (Paul Mescal), knocks on his door and attempts to invite himself in, which Adam declines.

Following this encounter, Adam soon commutes from London to his suburban childhood home, where he reunites with his parents. It is revealed quite quickly that his parents died before Adam turned 12 and left him an orphan. Whether they are ghosts or a figment of Adam’s mind is unclear to both the audience and himself, though he doesn’t seem to question it. He uses this chance to come out as gay to his parents, who are still “living” in the 80s – the AIDS epidemic and Margaret Thatcher’s politics coloring their lackluster response and heightening Adam’s insecurities.

Perhaps sensing his own loneliness in Harry, Adam decides to take a chance on starting something between them. The two men start seeing each other romantically and the chemistry between actors Mescal and Scott is palpable on-screen. Around the midpoint of the film, something interesting happens: time compresses, and Adam’s sense of what is memory and what is “real” begins to crumble, leaving him unmoored and vulnerable. He’s grown attached to his second chance with his parents, even though they insist that they must leave so that Adam can try and make things work with Harry.

Harry and Adam lay in bed together.

From Searchlight Pictures.

After letting go of his parents, Adam soon doubts his relationship with Harry is exactly as it seems. He ventures down to Harry’s apartment and discovers that Harry committed suicide the same night that they first met. Devastated, Adam must decide whether he wants to hold on to his grief or let Harry go. The film ends with the two in bed before zooming out, comparing the two grieving lovers to the stars in the night sky: alone, though shining brightly. The final message Haigh leaves us with is that, ultimately, as people (especially as queer people) we have to decide what we want to hold on to. Grief and loneliness have their place in the span of human emotions, but it is up to us to feel them as deeply as we can before we choose to move on.

All of Us Strangers, particularly the first half of the film, is a meditation on writing. Adam uses writing as an apparatus to access memories. His parents, whether or not they are supernatural ghosts, exist that way only in Adam’s memories. Adam describes how he’s writing about them, potentially triggering this strange encounter with the ghosts of his past. His interactions with his parents let him explore the ideas of what could have been. If they had lived, would they have accepted Adam’s sexuality? Would he have continued to feel lonely? He can’t really know, but this second chance instigates his resolve to try with Harry. 

Adam's parents sit across from him.

From Searchlight Pictures.

There’s a particular moment in All of Us Strangers that felt so raw, so exposed to me. I think Haigh, being a queer filmmaker, hits a very vulnerable sentiment regarding being queer in the modern family. Harry and Adam are discussing their lives and families, with Harry admitting that his family is accepting of his sexuality. Despite this acceptance, he remains an outsider. He can still marry and have kids, but he will never be “normal” – that is, straight. To be queer is to be lonely in a heteronormative world. This is why building queer relationships and queer community is so important, and ultimately what Adam understands in his relationship with Adam.

Haigh visualizes this loneliness in All of Us Strangers’s landscape. Adam’s apartment building looms over London, cold and empty compared to his suburban childhood home. London looks far away from the inside, and Harry seems small when Adam sees him outside. The spatial tension only adds to All of Us Strangers’s loneliness – manifesting this feeling into the physical world and demonstrating how modern society can often become lonely. To contrast with these ghostlike places, Haigh purposefully films Adam and Harry’s bodies in beautiful light, providing warmth in their intimacy and situating their figures as the antithesis to London’s cold, looming buildings.

Adam and Harry in the club bathroom.

From Searchlight Pictures.

All of Us Strangers really only suffers in one area to me: the second half of the film has a tonal shift that departs from the nearly perfect first half. While it’s still good, I think the compressed feeling was too bogged down after such a good depiction of loneliness and grief. Regardless, the film manages to pull off a rather complicated idea without too much explaining, leaving audiences with the capability to make their own assumptions rather than Haigh spoon-feeding his ideas to viewers.

Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers is not the first film on queer grief and loneliness, and it certainly won’t be the last. Its unique story and careful representations of its themes in a “post-COVID” world remind us that we are ultimately not alone and that there is connection out there, you just have to be ready to find it.




Sad, moving, and thought-provoking. Not perfect, but will prompt you to reflect on your life.

Sophia Schrock
Sophia (they/them) currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. They are passionate about queer cinema, horror, anything gothic, and their beloved cat Salem.