The Lovers is woven like a parable: why go looking for love when it lives with you?
The story centres around Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts). This married couple is living a series of lies, namely, they are both having affairs. At first, the film seems solely about this, but as it unfolds, Mary and Michael grow beyond their indiscretions in this fictional case study of relationships.
While their cheating could be dealt with in a campy way, their dying relationship (and growing peripheral loves), is dealt with emotionally. The conflict is deep while their surrounding lives offer up comedy, as we watch them mislead each other and dance around their fallacies.
The refreshing part of this film is that all this takes place in the characters late 50s. Usually, this theme is rife with doe-eyed 20-somethings romping around first time experiences. The Lovers shows more wisdom while still embracing the explorative humanity of relationships.
There is excitement, drama, intrigue, and all too real social problems that don’t include health or clichés of ageing. Nobody here is out to pasture. Nobody is rearing down. In fact, there is a heightened level of intrigue as there is so much going on that having affairs seems almost like a magic trick.
The bombastic and flowing soundtrack should take a bow as the score heightens the sometimes mundane scenes to Shakespearean levels. While at times pompous on purpose, The Lovers’ musical accompaniment echoes what’s going on inside the body rather than what we see on screen. As if the heart were an oboe and the eyes violins, the score delivers depth where it cannot be seen.
Melora Walters, as Lucy, stands out as an unhinged, or properly hinged, lover whose moods are a flock of birds on fire. She is volatility personified in her alt-relationship with Michael. Walters’ stone cold stare would make a lion apologize.
While the film stays interesting throughout, I can’t help but ask if this is a story already told. There are moments of enjoyability, strong acting, and deft dialogue, but it is not overall memorable. We see characters opening doors, we see their frustration in one-sided phone conversations, we see them pour their coffee, and turn on their computers; all the monotony of everyday life. While these are very human actions, they seem to drag the film down. This critique may seem petty, but there seems just a bit too much lingering in shots, almost like they were expecting the music to do the work.
Still, The Lovers works overall and is a studious alternative to the current fare of flash bang cinema.
Fri., June 2 – Thu., June 8
Princess Cinema, $10