Strangely in Love
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When I was in college, I had an advisor who specialized in Russian literature. He often went off on tangents, praising the great works of Solzhenitsyn and Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. To me, however, Russian literature always seemed too dark and heavy and academic for my tastes. But in his quirky indie romance, Strangely in Love, director Amin Matalqa takes Russian literature and turns it into something delightfully different.

Based on the novella White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Strangely in Love is the story of an adorably awkward young man who meets his dream girl, only to discover that she’s madly in love with another man.

Fyo (Jemuel Morris) leads a quiet, lonely life until a heroic act leads him to Nastenka (Michelle Lang), a blind woman who’s obsessed with Steve (Sean Carrigan), the love of her life, who left her to do missionary work with children in Africa. Though Fyo promises Nastenka that he won’t fall in love with her, he does just that. And as he helps her in her search for Steve, he secretly hopes that his rival is gone for good.

With its eccentric characters and its twisting plot, Strangely in Love is a charmingly bizarre love story. Both Fyo and Nastenka have more than their share of quirks. Fyo is sweet and naive and socially awkward. He’s a timid young man who lives his life from a distance, wanting friendship and love but afraid of actually connecting with anyone. But something about Nastenka takes away those fears.

Nastenka, meanwhile, is a wildly dramatic character—from her over-the-top actions and her peculiar upbringing to her big, flowing dresses. She’s a woman who loves completely, and her feelings for Steve cause her to hear him in every voice, in every distant sound. In a way, she feels like a classic silent film character, pantomiming her intense feelings to often comical extremes.

Together, these two make an unconventionally lovable pair—such strange characters who seem so adorable together. But, of course, it isn’t that simple. Fyo may be in love with Nastenka, but Nastenka’s madly, wildly, passionately in love with Steve—a rough and tough kind of guy who may or may not feel the same way. And that’s what makes the story interesting. There are so many questions here (Does Steve feel the same way? Will Fyo win Nastenka’s heart?), and the answers are often surprising in the most amusing of ways.

As its title suggests, Strangely in Love is definitely a strange little romance. Its characters, their stories, their romance—it’s all just a little bizarre. For some, the strangeness of it all might be a bit off-putting. But that’s also what makes this eccentric indie such an odd little treat.

Ed. Note: For more on Strangely in Love, visit

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