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Andrew Haigh Hopes 'All of Us Strangers' Will Heal Generational Trauma

Andrew Haigh Hopes 'All of Us Strangers' Will Heal Generational Trauma

Actor Andrew Scott Director Andrew Haigh All of US Strangers Movie Premier
Tommaso Boddi/FilmMagic

The director aimed the emotionally-driven movie at teens who endured the 1980s AIDS crisis.

Andrew Haigh’s emotionally-driven All of Us Strangers may be loosely based on Taichi Yamada’s Japanese novel Strangers, but the Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott-led film has a much more personal touch and reason the filmmaker wanted to tell the story.

A quick recap for those unfamiliar with the plot, the movie follows Adam (Scott), a 46-year-old gay screenwriter orphaned at 12 who’s depressed and living alone in London. He encounters Harry (Mescal) one drunken night, and the love story that follows is an exploration of grief and how childhood trauma can heavily impact your adulthood.

“All of the people in the film are longing for something — to be understood, to be known,” Haigh told The Guardian. “The coming-out scenes are about the importance of being known. It’s very hard to move through life if you feel you’re not understood. And if you’re not understood, you feel you’re alone.”

Once he decided to make the film, Haigh got ahold of the current owners of his childhood home, who agreed to let him film there. Though he admitted it was a “strange choice, emotionally,” Haigh also said it brought a sense of authenticity to the story, particularly for the targeted audience of gay men who were young teenagers in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis.

“It wasn’t an easy time,” Haigh said. “Growing up, I felt, ‘If I’m going to become a gay person I’m not going to have a future, and the only other alternative is not to be be gay’ — which of course you can’t not be. So I wanted to tell that story.”

The prejudice and hatred the young queer community endured at that time left a lasting effect, and Haigh wanted the film to help them heal.

“There’s a generation of queer people grieving for a childhood they never had,” he said. “I think there’s a sense of nostalgia for something we never got, because we were so tormented. It feels close to grief. It dissipates, but it’s always there. It’s like a knot in your stomach.”

Catch All of Us Strangers, which recently took home best film and best director at the British Independent Film Awards, in theaters now.

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