“The Lovers” Isn’t How It Appears But Is Still Something I Couldn’t Help But “Love”
Before I go further into this review, I will just go ahead and say that if you go and watch this, do NOT expect a light film. The trailer makes it seem like a light indie crowd pleaser in the vein of Hello, My Name Is Doris and I’ll See You In My Dreams but it is not that. That being said, I still think it’s a good movie that is worth seeing. Oddly enough, it still had me under its spell by the time it was over.
The Lovers depict an older married couple named and Michael and Mary (Tracy Letts and Debra Winger) who are unsatisfied with their marriage to the point where they repeatedly cheat on one another with Mary having an affair with writer Robert (Aiden Gillen) and Michael with ballet dancer Lucy (Melora Walters). But as their infidelity continues, they find themselves falling back in love again, leading to slight consequences.
While the story involving a couple in turmoil may be overly familiar, what director/writer Azazel Jacobs to make it feel innovative is through visual and audible aesthetics. The classical music done by Mandy Hoffman is rather operatic, bombastic at the right heavy moments and soothing in the much quieter moments. Along with the performances, the music is one of the best aspects of the film because of how it helps tell the story.
The opening sequence is rather expertly done as well. As soon as the film opens, it tells us everything we need to know about the plot without the use of dialogue. The minute the film opens, we see Lucy crying and Michael trying to comfort her, hinting that he had already confessed that he is married. While it may be a signaling of the rather dark storyline, I love how Jacobs trusts how smart the audience is and how they are to figure the plot out on their own without the use of heavy exposition.
As for the performances, both lead actors do a fine job carrying the film on their shoulders. But as terrific as Tracy Letts is as the rather abrasive Michael, it is Debra Winger who is the standout as Mary, the wife who may be as abrasive as her husband but still slowly comes to terms with what she wants. She isn’t given as much face time as Letts but her work is still quietly effective. As for Aiden Gillen and Melora Walters who play the objects of the couple’s infidelities, they do a fine job as well, demonstrating the grey area of the affairs taking place by displaying the sensual joy both Mary and Michael make them feel while also pointing out how they almost obliviously toy with their emotions.
We also see how the couple’s affair affects their long lost son Joel (Tyler Ross) who appears around the third act. In spite of him appearing within the climax, Ross packs in a major yet authentic gut punch. Whenever couples separate and/or engage in adultery, those in the couple get slight satisfaction but at the expense of their children who feel betrayed by the ignorance of their parents and Ross does an exemplary job at displaying that kind of hurt.
So it is admirable how Azazel Jacobs displays the main affair at every angle: the couple, the objects of their affection, and the child who is heartbroken by the adultery his parents are committing.
While The Lovers isn’t meant to be a game changer for romantic dramas, it still thrives in its innovative yet authentic filmmaking by Azazel Jacobs along with the two lead performances. It may not be as light as the trailer suggests and goes into very heavy places towards the end but I would still say it is worth the price of admission.