Azazel Jacobs, writer and director
Starring: Debra Winger (Mary), Tracy Letts (Michael), Aidan Gillen (Robert), Melora Walters (Lucy), Tyler Ross (Joel), Jessica Sula (Erin)
Having affairs when you’re over 40 used to be the subject for farces or worse, tragedies. How could anyone middle-aged or older actually engage in a passionate relationship? Our attitudes have changed recently thanks to yoga, Pilates, better diets, and the so far unvanquished urge by the Boomer Generation to never get old.
The Lovers is the latest example of romance and lust among the Zoomer set and it offers a fair bit of drama and humour—but this isn’t a farce. Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) have been married for ages, long enough to have an idealistic son who is in college. They’re bored with each other and have been, it seems, for years.
Most of the early part of the film is taken up with their affairs, Mary with the poet Robert and Michael with Lucy, a dance instructor. It’s obvious that Lucy and Robert are more excited by their relationships than Michael and Mary. In fact, Michael and Lucy quarrel so much it feels as if it’s their marriage that’s failing, not the one he’s having with Mary.
That’s when The Lovers pulls off its coup. Turns out that Michael and Mary still can find some flair in their love life together. Suddenly, they’re the ones who are having the affair, not daring to tell their illicit partners that marriage can be blissful after all.
All good things must come to an end, as Chaucer once put it. The return of their not-so prodigal son with his gorgeous girlfriend was supposed to be the time when both Michael and Mary would reveal the somewhat shady truth of the affairs both have been having. But Michael and Mary like each other better than they have in a decade. Can they go through with telling their son? Or getting divorced? And even if they do, can they stop feeling amorous towards each other?
The Lovers is a skillfully made film, set in the remorselessly modern American West Coast. Michael and Mary have jobs but neither seems to care much about what they do 9 to 5. It’s the indulgences in life that feed them: the drinks, the risks and the physical passion. Directed by Azazel Jacobs, the son of the acclaimed experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs and director of the acclaimed female buddy TV series Doll and Em, the film is a muted satire about the absence of any sort of substance in America’s liberal middle class. Lord knows what Jacobs could do with a sequel among straying Republicans in Kansas.
Featuring still-in-shape former Hollywood Icon Debra Winger and playwright-thespian Tracy Letts along with Aidan Gillen and Melora Walters, The Lovers is certainly an ad for keeping your body together as you get older. Now, about that spiritual side…
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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