The Lovers (2017)

  • Time: 97 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Azazel Jacobs
  • Cast: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Aidan Gillen

Storyline:

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both in the midst of serious affairs. But on the brink of calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.

One review

  • Though set in present day and taking place in prosaic surroundings, Azazel Jacobs’ The Lovers could just as easily been released in the Thirties and Forties when the comedy of remarriage dominated screwball comedies such as Preston Sturges’ The Palm Beach Story, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth, and George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story. Starring Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as a married couple who one day find themselves cheating on their lovers with one another, The Lovers explores the laws of attraction and re-attraction with barbed wit and often surprising empathy.

    Mary (Winger) and Michael (Letts) are on the verge of dissolving their longtime marriage. Whatever attraction they may have had for one another has long disappeared. Both have been biding their time until they can at last turn their respective lovers into actual significant others, and both have decided that the imminent arrival of their son Joel (Tyler Ross) and his girlfriend Erin (Jessica Sula) will serve as the perfect opportunity to end things once and for all. Their lovers are dubious, they seem to have heard this all before. Ballet teacher Lucy (Melora Walters) angrily wonders why Michael has to wait after Joel is gone to sever the strings. Novelist Robert (Aiden Gillen) feels in his gut that Mary will go through with it this time, but confesses that he won’t be able to take it anymore if she doesn’t.

    After what appears to be years of sneaking around and making excuses to be with their lovers, Mary and Michael wake up one morning, look at each other and discover their desire for one another rekindled. The ensuing moments following their lovemaking are akin to a masterful pas de deux – shame has overtaken them, they can’t even look at one another, and then…Mary glances at him, he glances at her, he inches closer to her on the bed, she wonders if all this is really happening, and desire overwhelms them once again. Soon they’re exchanging flirty text messages and rushing home to one another so they can have morning, afternoon and evening delights much to the chagrin of Lucy and Robert, both of whom can’t help but notice Mary and Michael’s sudden emotional distance and begin to panic that the couple will remain together. Joel, meanwhile, so used to his parents’ loveless relationship, is stymied by their amorous behaviour.

    As with any romantic comedy, the secondary characters get short shrift – audiences are meant to root for the main couple after all – and so there’s a certain broadness in Lucy and Robert’s characterisations, with the former an inexplicably raging, almost psychotic mess and the latter a gentler but no less needy charmer. Yet all focus is deservedly on Winger and Letts, who are both compelling. Winger has never been more radiant whilst Letts is a particular revelation – sexy, exasperated, confused, but downright exhilarated at this unexpected turn of events. Jacobs remarkably sustains the story’s premise (though the third act is a bit slack), but Winger and Letts elevate the material, bringing grace, sophistication, and bittersweet poignancy to two people who may need to re-connect in order to either fully disconnect or truly remain connected until death do them part.

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