I feel like I’m starting to get to the point where indie movies that try to act “important” are really starting to grate on me. Just because a movie has a low budget or talented actors doesn’t mean it’s automatically authentic or sincere. Oh, don’t mind me. I’m clearly just a cynic.
The Lovers comes from writer/director Azazel Jacobs, and is about a couple that hates each other dispassionately. Michael (Tracy Letts) is married to Mary (Debra Winger), and they have not been into each other for decades. Michael is cheating on his wife with Lucy, an unbalanced ballet teacher (Melora Waters), and seems to hold it together with her despite Lucy constantly needing reassurance that Michael will be leaving his wife.
Mary is also having an affair, with writer Robert (Aidan Gillen), who is a bit of a pretentious prat, but he’s caring. Mary is barely paying attention at work, which she hates, and Michael emotionally manipulates Lucy and lies to everyone while despising his own dreary job. Both have promised their respective paramours that they will leave the marriage right after their son Joel comes to visit from college.
So we know there’s a ticking clock until things explode, right?
Except that oddly, unclearly, and mysteriously, Michael and Mary somehow have a new spark and begin a sort of affair within their own marriage. But it’s all because they are liars and cheats and afraid to tell the truth: that they aren’t excited by stability and consistency but instead by newness and wrongness.
So why should we care about them at all?
Like most of these sort of annoying indie movies, I have no issues with the acting, although Aidan Gillen couldn’t seem to keep a consistent accent throughout the movie. What I do take issue with is the pacing, which didn’t work for me. It’s an hour and half long, but the first forty minutes is dull, and then the weird romance happens and goes on too long, and then the movie’s climax is eye-rollingly annoying.
There seems to be some sort of message about the concept of an older people long past romance discovering something new, but it’s hard to connect with that because these characters aren’t that interesting or well fleshed out or are just annoying. There is also an odd choice with the score, which uses these sweeping orchestral moments that seem almost like parody. But the supposed comedic moments don’t really hit for me at all.
Without getting into spoilers, I didn’t care for the ending either, which is trying to wrap things up in a very smug sort of way, like “See? Didn’t see that coming did ya?” So overall, the movie doesn’t work, because it’s too difficult to buy into the romance. Nothing wrong with a story about an older couple, but I’d prefer one with characters I don’t dislike this much.
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The Lovers has a running time of 1 hour 34 minutes, and is rated R for sexuality and language.