The Lovers review: The romantic comedy movie gets flipped on its head in this new, very original feature from Azazel Jacobs.
The Lovers review by Paul Heath.
“They hate each other. Watch them carefully, and if you see me acting like either of them, punch me in the face.” These are the words of young student Joel (Tyler Ross), speaking to his girlfriend Erin (Jessica Sula) about his parents Michael (Tracy Letts) and his wife Mary (Debra Winger), as they board a train to visit home for a few days. That one statement perfectly sums up the relationship of the married couple, and provides the basis for this film, a very witty, often funny insight into the later days of a lifelong relationship – a romantic comedy flipped on its head with fantastic lead performances and very clever screenplay.
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We meet the troubled duo, each with a different partner, both having affairs, Michael with neurotic ballet dancer Lucy (Melora Walters), and Mary with Robert (Aiden Gillen). It’s clear early on that both relationships have been going on for quite some time, and both Michael and Mary’s new partners are growing tired of being ‘the other man/ woman’, and want an end to the seemingly dead marriage. However, things change when, on one particular morning, Michael and Mary wake up facing one another, arms locked around one another. A spark is somehow reignited, and through a series of very amusing scenes, the two start a physical relationship with one another once again, right before their son and his wonderful new girlfriend turn up at their door.
Of course, all kinds of moral and social issues are thrown at the screen by writer/ director Azazel Jacobs (Terri, Momma’s Man) – like can cheating really save a marriage? Of course, that’s up to us to decide during the reasonably tight running time of the film – around 95 minutes. A lot rests on the performances of the four actors playing the four troubled individuals who have seemingly found love in all the wrong, and unexpected places. Tracy Letts and Debra Winger are the dismissive couple stuck in a rut and their portrayals of Michael and Mary are first-rate, neither one drawing more sympathy from the audience than the other. Walters and Gillen draw less consideration, which is the point, one willing for the potential divorcees to overcome their issues and stay together.
The narrative is supported by a wonderful, theatrical score from Mandy Hoffman, her perfect soundtrack aiding the narrative and the performances of everyone on screen. While the music is dramatic, it is not present in the places where you’d expect it to be – particularly during the climactic few scenes, Jacobs relying on his cast to evoke every emotion – which they do faultlessly.
The Lovers is a film which won’t exactly set the world alight, but it is certainly worth checking out. While some elements of the story are very unpredictable, others are none, particularly it’s ending, which aims for a target you’d probably expect it to hit. The resolution is not a terrible thing though, as the final scenes wrap things up rather nicely, and leave a big beaming smile right across your face come curtain up. The use of the Madness track towards the end is worth the price of admission alone.
A delightful, very funny comedy with lots of humour, all of which, while definitely a little off-beat, always hits the mark.
The Lovers review by Paul Heath, October 2017.
The Lovers is currently awaiting a UK release date.