Director: Azazel Jacobs
Starring: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts
Rated: R (For sexuality and language)
Considering the rising divorce rates that keep destroying families, you can’t deny that marriage is hard. The spark stops coming, the romance dies, and two people who once considered each other to be best friends now sit in a room and might as well be perfect strangers. These are themes that are ripe for movies to tackle because of how complex they are. The outcome varies, of course. Sometimes the couple splits up for good while sometimes they get back together again. “The Lovers” goes with the flow that Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) are on the verge of getting a divorce. They are both secretly having affairs with one another and the only time they seem to communicate is when they need to discuss an impending visit by their son. Even he isn’t fooled though, telling his girlfriend “if I ever start acting like [my parents] feel free to punch me.”
When the film started there was misery in the air and I sank into my chair, waiting almost with dread that I would be spending two hours with a couple of the most miserable people on the face of the Earth. I wasn’t prepared to be dismayed, but I’ve seen those movies before, and you have to do something really unique to avoid falling into the trap of producing endless melancholy. Then, at one point, there is a spark. A kiss. A moment of human contact between the two that is accidental and unintentional that causes the two to look at each other for the first time in years. Now they feel passion for each other once more. They are even flirting with each other. One of the lovers notices the change in attitude so much that she asks Michael “are you cheating on me with your WIFE?!” I have to admit that I found the absurdity of that one line to be a highlight.
Getting slightly off topic, this is Debra Winger’s first starring role in years. She used to have steamy sex scenes with Richard Gere in movies like “An Officer and a Gentleman.” There is some sex here too (although much less graphic this time around), and she still has the moves and the look of a woman who is in complete control of her body and sexuality. To the point where, yeah, in a loveless marriage I can certainly see why she believes she can do better. When she does make love with her husband the scenes are sweet and passionate. The movie starts to get a lot lighter and more full of life when the two start enjoying each other again. There is a sweetness in seeing these two people fall in love with each other all over again. We start to hope that maybe they can ultimately have their fairy tale ending.
Whether they get their happy ending or not I refuse to spoil. The movie managed to throw a few curve balls at me, which only heightened the fun I had watching it. It is interesting that this is in theaters the same weekend that “Baywatch” opens big across the country. That movie is juvenile, unfunny, and lacks sex appeal despite the relentless sexual content on display. In comparison “The Lovers” is mature, sweet, and sexy despite the sexual restraint on display. Both are rated R but “The Lovers” feels like it was made with mature audiences in mind, while “Baywatch” seems like it was made by kids for kids. To see a movie this intelligent made for adults during the Memorial Day weekend is such a shock it gives me a little hope for the future. I mean, not much because I doubt this is going to be a financial success, but hopefully it will find a life on DVD and streaming sites over the years.
Parents, there is enough sex and language to earn the R rating, but it's all done tastefully and most adults won't find much to object to. Recommended for ages 17 and up.