Movie Review: 'The Lovers'
Even after a couple of days, I have to admit that I’m still not sure how I feel about The Lovers.
The movie follows a married couple, Mary and Michael, who have long since grown disenchanted with each other and are each having affairs, both of them telling their paramours that they’re about to end the marriage and live happily ever after with them. Neither knows about the other’s affair, and each works very hard to keep the other from finding out. And then, one day, things kind of change. The two wake up face-to-face, and without thinking about it, they kiss. And with that, they begin a sort of affair with each other, falling back in love, but having to keep that hidden from the two people they’re having actual affairs with.
On the one hand, this all feels real. It’s clear why Mary and Michael have fallen out of love with each other, and Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play the two characters as real people, with desires, and flaws, and kindness, and disappointments. And we understand why they might fall back in love with each other—after all, they were in love once, and it’s kind of apparent that neither one is terribly happy even in their affairs, each one still searching for some kind of connection that it doesn’t seem anyone can provide. We believe that these characters are people.
But I do wonder if it’s all a little bit too cute. And I don’t mean cutesy. It’s very much not that; there are plenty of difficult feelings flying around throughout the film. But it’s all a little bit convenient that the two seem to be having parallel affairs, sometimes with the same conversations, and that they then begin to have an affair with each other that they have to hide, despite being married to each other.
For a movie that feels so real in its characters, it also feels like it’s a bit too pleased with itself for coming up with this conceit. The Lovers is a tidy little story full of messy feelings, and one that might have been better if it had let itself be even messier.