Movie Review: “The Lovers”

The lovers

“The Lovers” – a film review by Gary Chew

The Lovers is the title a new film just opening that has conjured up a certain amount of cynicism. The title, at first glance, suggests it’s likely a foreign film centered around an attractive young woman and man who are unable to keep their hands off one another, despite what surrounds them to complicate their need for frequent lovemaking. This scenario would probably draw a youthful audience to any movie palace near you. But young people don’t show up in this movie — written and directed by Azazel Jacobs — until well through the third act.

Three of the lovers are on the wrong side of their midlife crises. Married for years, passion has ebbed from the relationship of Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts). They’re hum-drumming along in boring but reasonably well-paid employment without having their brains totally in gear; if you know what I mean. Both are caught up in a sneaky, sneak-around thing with someone else. Mary’s guy, Robert (Aiden Gillen, Littlefinger in Game of Thrones) is younger than she; Michael’s gal, Lucy (Melora Walters), is a too-close-to-50s dance teacher. In their unfaithful liaisons, both Mary and Michael are about to step up, make a break and tell the other: “Honey, it’s over.”

The LoversOr, are they?

The film, in its only shortcoming for me, spends a bit too much time on all the back and forth as to whether simultaneous breakings-up will actually ensue. There are long pauses in dialogue as Winger and Letts marvelously emote their inner “in-character” ruminations about how to proceed with the reality of their established lives as well as the human desires that push them to inappropriate conduct. It’s all really terribly familiar, don’t you think? (An answer is not required.)

Well, it is rather routine … if you’ve experienced such a circumstance. On the other hand, most young people, barreling into a new thing with someone, are not so aware of feelings that, more often than not, may surface after reaping the continuing rewards of fresh, new communication with another person of considerable or even great significance. Yes, that does sound familiar. (Smile.)

The LoversTherefore, The Lovers is a cautionary tale for the inexperienced … and a low-key hoot for folks who’ve been around the block more than once.

I like to see famous film people who’ve become not-so-famous keep flexing their chops. Winger is merely looking older, but she is just as good as she was when she was messing around with Richard Gere in that other movie. (By the way, Gere is doing the same thing these days with chops flexing; check him out. The Dude is so smooth.)

As an actor, Tulsa native Tracy Letts gets me into his ever elongating queue of “big fans,” especially when coupling this role of Michael with an excellent earlier turn as a university dean in the 2016 picture, Indignation. Facial expressions Letts wears when Michael is feeling like he’s 23, not 53, are nothing but amazing … and very funny … at least they were for me … and one other person in the audience, I noticed.

Late teens and early twenty-somethings should take this picture without one single grain of salt. They can use what they learn watching The Lovers — hopefully — to avoid some of the pitfalls the more mature Mary and Michael tumble into. But putting such caution into the mix of life might lessen the fun to be had.

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