The Lovers Review: An Easy Renewal

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What Azazel Jacobs’ The Lovers does best is put on display the intricacies of attraction. Tracy Letts and Debra Winger perfectly showcase the mannerisms of two people simultaneously bored by each other yet just a few key acts of interest away from falling back in love.

The film opens with Michael and Mary (Letts and Winger) as they go through the motions of their marriage while experiencing the fiery passion of affairs with two people (Aidan Gilles and Melora Walters) who express varying levels of instability as the events play out. The star couple tell their respective lovers that after an impending visit with their son and his girlfriend (Tyler Ross and Jessica Sula), the marriage is over. But suddenly a spark forms, not just because their son is coming home, but because there’s still something there, initiated by some small intimate contact one stray morning. It could have happened at any time, but now there’s a chance that the marriage doesn’t have to end if they can just got through their son’s visit and their lovers’ unpredictable natures.

Jacobs’ tone is a little wonky, setting too much of the early parts of the film to cheeky classical music that overplays how routine their affairs have become. But the second half improves, as their son comes home and Letts and Winger get to share scenes that are both highly tense and deeply affectionate. They’re the chief reason this film works, easing the film’s tone into its more realistic path.

The ending, however cleverly constructed, fails to advance the characters in a rewarding manner. Suddenly, two people previously fighting for something beautiful become irredeemable. The intent for a satisfying conclusion is there, but Jacobs doesn’t stick the landing.

And so, The Lovers ends up being a merely good film that could have been great. The performances are there, and the writing on more than a few instances is too, but a shoddy ending and an uneven tone end up leaving the film feeling a little cold, and that’s one thing a spark, old or new, can never be. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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