By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
As “Old Blue Eyes” used to sing, love and marriage go well together, but as most adult people know by now, traveling that road together has its share of speed bumps, obstacles and hazzards. As another pop song goes, “Love is strange.” Love often has no rhyme or reason, strikes without warning and can make people behave in insane ways. The Lovers is a new film which perfectly illustrates the erratic and erotic craziness behind love, passion, and lust, as well as the effects that these elements can have on a marriage. Directed by Azreal Jacobs and starring Debra Winger and Tracy Letts, this extraordinary film plays like a hysterical and romantic roller coaster.
Mary (Winger) and Michael (Letts) have been married for several decades now, and for the last few years, they have been simply going through the motions. Unbeknownst to each other, both husband and wife are having affairs with other people. Michael sees the passionate, but hot-tempered dancer/dance instructor Lucy (Melora Walters) on a somewhat regular basis, but remains on the fence about leaving his wife to commit to her fully. Mary actually sits on a fence of her own. She may see her lover Robert on an equally regular basis, but can’t summon up the courage to leave Michael either. Mary and Michael seem to have grown tired of their lovers and feel uncertain about a future with them. After years of no passion within the marriage, and seemingly endless days of awkward silences and forced mundane conversations, something unexpectedly sparks between the husband and wife. The two begin engaging in a passionate love affair that they must keep secret from their other paramours.
Superbly written and directed by Azrael Jacobs, The Lovers offers a hilarious farce that targets some of the self-imposed problems within marriages and relationships, but does so earnestly with a beautiful joie de vivre that will make audiences smile and laugh heartily. Jacobs does an exceptional job with the writing and direction of the more grueling and awkward scenes between the husband and wife during their more flaccid and humdrum moments, but can also bewitchingly switch gears with ease when things heat up between them. During the more spicy scenes is where Jacobs’s excellent comic chops are more evident as these scenes had me rolling in my seat. To be clear, though, Jacobs doesn’t mock the middle-aged lovers for their goofy sex talk and behavior, he presents it in a very captivating and adoring way.
It definitely helps that both Debra Winger and Tracy Letts perform their roles with much dedication and warmth. The actors and Jacobs also work well together in developing these characters as real, flesh and blood people with all of their frustrating flaws and more appealing attributes. I fell in love with their characters, but often grew irritated when they made stupid decisions and acted in very hurtful ways. The movie also stars both Melora Walters and Aidan Gillen who both offer excellent work as their other lovers.
Walters performs well as the loving, but temperamental Lucy whose impatience with Michael threatens to reveal their affair early in the film. Gillen stars as Mary’s lover Robert, a sensitive author who may not be as hot-tempered as Lucy, but wants the same life for him and Mary. The film also features a phenomenal performance by Tyler Ross who stars as Mary and Michael’s son Joel. Joel has a slightly estranged relationship with his family, as he knows about his father’s weaknesses all too well. When he returns home to find his parents enamored with one another, he can’t seem to fathom what has happened while he has been away. However, as it has been said in multiple songs, love is crazy and unpredictable.
That could be said about this movie also. It is a little crazy and unpredictable, but in a wonderful way. There have been many films about marriages and relationships, and how they often struggle or fail, but The Lovers is a breath of fresh air in an genre which often falls victim to cliches. The movie offers a compelling an entertaining alternative to summer fare and is an indie feature which deserves much love and attention. The film is rated R for language and sexual content, but should make for damn fine entertainment for adults of multiple ages and generations.