Paul Mendoza

I ran into a friend on the subway on the way home from watching this film. I told him that I saw a film called The Lovers. He responded, “Sounds like a chick flick”. Well, first off, what’s wrong with ‘chick flicks’? My favorite film is Casablanca (1942), perhaps the best ‘chick flick’ of all time. But I thought, was this a traditional ‘chick flick’? Just because it was about a relationship? The definition of relationships has changed greatly over the years. They’re not just between men and women. Think Thelma and Louise (1991), Brokeback Mountain (2004), Bridesmaids (2011), Sherlock Holmes (2009). We’re all in relationships of different kinds. So, The Lovers is not a ‘chick flick’. It’s a ‘people flick’. And I have to say, I recognized myself in these very flawed people.

The Lovers is about a longtime, married couple that just don’t seem to like each other anymore.  They barely acknowledge each other’s existence and have begun carrying on affairs with other people. Michael (Tracy Letts) is seeing Lucy (Melora Walters, Magnolia) a ballet instructor who is high strung and volatile. Mary (Debra Winger) is seeing Robert (Aidan Gillen, Game of Thrones) who is a serious writer, artsy type. Michael and Mary keep telling them that they will be free soon and that they will be together but this is what they’ve been saying for a long time. Finally, both Michael and Mary use the upcoming visit of their only child, their son, Joel and his college girlfriend Erin to ask for a divorce the day they leave. It’s agreed. All the sneaking around will soon be over.

Only something weird happens one morning. Something that changes how Michael and Mary see one another and what follows is very funny and very original. But while there is much humor in this story it never stops being real. These relationships are complicated and how this married couple feel about each other is very layered. I didn’t expect the twists and turns or the real anger and hurt that these characters experience and cause.

Written and Directed by Azazel Jacobs, The Lovers is very much an original. It may sound like something you’ve seen before but trust me you haven’t. Tracy Letts is wonderful. His expressions are priceless.

Debra Winger underplays beautifully. She allows you to see Mary’s confusion and pain but never wallows in it. These are two people who have lived a disappointing life together but are they ready to move on and start over.

As the put upon lovers, Melora Waters is scary, borderline Fatal Attraction time! Aidan Gillen is like a hurt little boy, awkward in his love for Mary.

Tyler Ross (TV’s The Killing) as their son has always known that his parent’s relationship was sad and empty and of course doesn’t want to be anything like them. His girlfriend, Erin, played by Jessica Sula (Split) is lovely and sweet and like the audience, an outside observer to all the madness.

The Lovers will make you feel.  A lot of different things. It will keep you guessing and you tell me what happens at the end. It was a topic of discussion with the woman I saw this with. Did they make the right decision? Did they learn anything?  Does anyone?