Andrew Haigh‘s All Of Us Strangers (Searchlight, 12.22), which I had problems with due to the beard-stubble sex scenes between Andrew Scott and HE nemesis Paul Mescal, is essentially a time-travel flick.

It’s about a 40ish gay London screenwriter named Adam (Scott) retreating to his ’80s childhood so he can tell his dead suburb-residing parents (Jamie Bell, Claire Foy) that he’s gay** and to basically bring them (and himself) up to speed.

I mostly succeeded at suppressing my negative feelings about Mescal, and I genuinely went with Scott’s performance, and I especially liked Foy’s. But I was basically waiting for Strangers to come to a merciful end. And while I was sitting there in my seat at Telluride’s Galaxy Theatre I was thinking back to an Eisenhower-era Twilight Zone episode about another grown man revisiting his childhood and eventually conversing with his father. A big difference is that the Zone protagonist is straight.

Walking Distance“, the fifth episode in The Twilight Zone‘s first season (’59 to ’60), is not about “hey, mom and dad, this is who I turned out to be sexually, and I really wanted you to know that…well, that I’m a happy heterosexual and that I more or less turned out to be Jack Nicholson‘s character in Carnal Knowledge.”

Walking Distance, rather, is about a harried man briefly escaping from the pressures of adulthood.

36 year-old Martin Sloane (Gig Young), an anxiety-ridden advertising executive from Manhattan, briefly visits a idyllic yesteryear town — a Willoughby-like, Thornton Wilder-esque hamlet with a merry-go-round in the park. Sloane soon comes to realize that he’s revisiting his own home town, and that the year is 1934, when he was 11 years old. Sloane eventually meets his wise and perceptive father (Frank Overton, who died in ’67) and has a heart-to heart about everything.

The basic message of Walking Distance is that no matter how difficult or stressed your life may seem, and no matter how desperately an older person may want to retreat to the past, you can’t go home again.

The basic message of All Of Us Strangers is that gay guys need to come out to their parents, even if the parents-in-question died in a car crash a long time ago. Which may help them to feel whole.

I guess I’m imagining Walking Distance being about a closeted Manhattan ad executive in 1959 who time-travels and confesses his sexuality to his dad. The pater familias looks at him and says “I’ll always love you, son…I’m just sorry that you won’t be able to be open about yourself until…well, frankly not until the ’70s or 80s and perhaps not even until the ’90s. By which time you’ll be well past your sexual prime and on your way to assisted living. I’m sorry…tough break.”

Or maybe I’m thinking about a 36 year-old Hollywood Elsewhere reader revisiting his childhood in the early to mid ’90s and exploring what he’d like to change or un-do on some level. Or a 46-year-old HE reader retreating back to the early to mid ’80s.

** Adam isn’t comfortable calling himself queer.