There is no one to root for in ‘The Lovers’ and for once, that’s okay

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in ‘The Lovers’

Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool, Loving both of you is breaking all the rules – Lyrics from the song “Torn Between Two Lovers” written by Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary.

“Someone told me the delightful story of the crusader who put a chastity belt on his wife and gave the key to his best friend for safekeeping, in case of his death. He had ridden only a few miles away when his friend, riding hard, caught up with him, saying ‘You gave me the wrong key!” – Anais Nin

Meet “Michael” (Tracey Letts – writer of Killer Joe and August: Osage County; and a fine actor who has appeared in The Big Short and U.S. Marshals).  He has a job that he shows his disdain for by often arriving late and doing anything but his work when seated at his desk.  He is married to “Mary” (Debra Winger – Terms of Endearment, Rachel Getting Married) who also seems disinterested in her own job.  They have been married seemingly forever, have a son named “Joel” (Tyler Ross – Officer Downe) who is away at college.  Oh yeah, the other thing they have in common is that both are having affairs where they are seriously involved with their extramarital lovers.

Michael is seeing “Lucy” (Melora Walters – Dead Poets Society, Magnolia) who is a dancer and teaches dance classes in her own studio.  She is madly in love with Michael and waiting for the moment he will tell Mary that he is leaving her.

Melora Walters and Tracy Letts in ‘The Lovers’

Mary is seeing “Robert” (Aiden Gillen – The Dark Knight Rises) a novelist.  He, like Lucy, is very enamored of Mary and waiting not so patiently for the moment she will announce to Michael that she is going to leave Michael and move in with Robert.

Mary and Michael share another thing in common.  They’ve been putting off telling the other that as far as they are concerned, the marriage is over.  Finally they each tell their paramour that when Joel comes home from college, they will tell him what is going on and then they can make a clean break.

Then something unexpected happens.  Out of left field, with no clearly obvious cause, they suddenly find a sexual spark between the two of them.  This leads to the ultimate in ironies, the members of a married couple wind up cheating on those they were cheating with, to be with each other.  Meanwhile they keep their extramarital partners holding on to the firm deadline of the arrival of Joel and his girlfriend “Erin” (Jessica Sula – Split) as the moment that the marriage will end, allowing them to live happily ever-after with their respective lovers.

One of the best parts of this film is watching Tracy Letts and Debra Winger play a couple going from total disinterest in each other to a couple in the throes of some serious sexual proclivities.  Their chemistry works at both ends of the sexual spectrum.  The dialogue is crisp and clever, giving the cast the opportunity to use it with razor-sharp precision.

What doesn’t work as well are their relations with their extra-marital partners.  Otherwise this would have been a fabulous film.

[imdb id = tt5770620]

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