The Lovers

Poster for The Lovers

“In The Lovers, an exquisitely funny-sad portrait of a marriage that’s fallen on hard times, it’s never entirely clear to whom the title refers. That’s only fitting, since Mary (Debra Winger, Boychoir, Rachel Getting Married) and Michael (Tracy Letts), the wife and husband at the center of Azazel Jacobs’ (Terri) lovely new movie, can scarcely figure out their own feelings on the matter.

They spend their days sleepwalking through their jobs: Michael routinely shows up late at the office; Mary distractedly blows off lunches and meetings. At night they return home, invariably at odd hours, awkwardly occupying the same space but never sharing more than a few words. Their marriage is in a severe rut and has been for years, but Jacobs spares us the tedium of backstory and exposition, or worse, the movie-friendly spectacle of angry voices and shattered crockery. His characters’ silences speak genuine volumes.

Besides, they have other people they can talk to. Michael is carrying on an affair with Lucy (Melora Walters), a ballet instructor, while Mary is seeing Robert (Aidan Gillen, Sing Street, Calvary), a novelist. Having a fling with a younger, hotter artiste type may be a midlife-crisis cliché, but it’s one that writer-director Jacobs invests with real flesh, blood and feeling: He takes these relationships as seriously as his characters do. Both Michael and Mary assure their demanding paramours that they will break things off with their spouses very shortly.

But then something wondrous and sublimely simple happens. Perhaps encouraged by the ever-present caress of Mandy Hoffman’s score, Mary and Michael find themselves falling back into each other’s arms, shocked to realize that, after years of emotional numbness, they still have real, passionate feelings for each other. Soon they’re not just two-timing each other but their new partners as well, sneaking around and making up excuses so they can retreat to the privacy of the suburban home they’ve shared for years.” (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)

“The characters in The Lovers and the problems they face and struggle with feel entirely authentic, as does the magnetic chemistry between the leads.” (Kimber Myers, The Playlist)

“The Lovers is the rare film that acknowledges that romance isn’t limited to people in their 20s and 30s. It’s also a smart, quirky comedy that moviegoers of any age should find eminently appealing.” (Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)