The Lovers

… of indecision

D o dating websites ever come with a special “Baggage” section? I feel like modern dating is like leveling up in a video game – you have scored! Achievement unlocked!  Except instead of getting some super bonus like in Candy Crush, you instead unlock … baggage. Congratulations on getting to second base … Achievement unlocked – you have now acquired, I dunno, a gossipy friend! Passive-aggression! A mommy complex! A sexual dysfunction! Etc. The beauty of relationships is never quite knowing what baggage comes with whomever has entered your sphere. In my world, I’m only too happy to be introverted; I know my baggage; it’s considerable and really shouldn’t be mixed – like alcohol and medication. With any affair, well, it’s just a matter of time before you’re dealing with a human. Oh God, no.

Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) are both having Stage 2 affairs. [In simplest terms –Stage 1: Bliss, Stage 2: Issues, Stage 3: Decision] We have to imagine whatever bliss preceded; right now all we see is baggage. Oh yeah, single people have baggage, too. Sometimes, they have even more baggage than the person you married! *GASP* In Lucy (Melora Walters), Tracy has already unlocked the jealous/possessive achievement. He doesn’t like it. Who would? In Robert (Aiden Gillen), Mary has unlocked the blasé achievement; their affair not only lacks fire, it serves the role of a sizeable shrug – gosh, well at least somebody loves me, I suppose. Both Lucy and Robert want to level up to decision time. Both Mary and Michael are waiting until after the big boss stage – a reunion with their son (Tyler Ross).

It’s particularly sad when we realize Mary and Michael have both unlocked the marriage achievement of indifference – They ask questions as rote exercise; they barely listen to the answers. They could make up outrageous excuses on the spot and never get called on it. Which would you rather have: being grilled over a lie to your partner or constantly getting away with it without question? Truth is, you actually want the former, and this film is the proof.

On their way to drifting blithely into a different set of issues, Mary and Michael discover something very unexpected – they’re still hot for one another. This is the comic premise of The Lovers – this pair start cheating on their extra partners with … themselves! Achievement unlocked: irony. Does it sound funnier when I spell it out? No? Well, it wasn’t that funny in the theater, either; it played more as a muted satirical joy. That was fine, actually, as we kind of like Mary and Michael and if they’re happy with each other all the better, right?

For me, the mood of The Lovers was the key to enjoyment. Folks too old to be lost behave as if they aren’t the architects of their own failure; there’s a benevolent, almost innocent, mirth within the mess. It shouldn’t be there, but it is, and it’s the best part of the movie. The Lovers changes violently when the son shows up to upset this farce. Unfortunately, the picture went down with it. It turns from, “aw, isn’t this sweet” to “oh yeah, these are actual lives being toyed with. Well that’s no fun at all.” Congratulations, you’ve now unlocked drama.

When you have a film listed as a comedy and it becomes no fun … look, I don’t want to have to tell you your job, but you didn’t think this one through. Game over.

♪(An) Affair is a veritable clusterfuck usterfuck usterfuck
After the bliss has ceased
Each night when the cheat returns
(S)he sneaks around, toe the ground, not a sound
Oh, how the stress increased

Lipstick smeared and ripped-up receipts
Snippets, crumbs and guilty Stover candy
Stony iced hearts, ‘fusive dribbling
Lame excuses everywhere

(An) Affair is a veritable PlutoNash, HudsonHawk, MarsNeedsMoms
After the love is shut
Each day when the calls elapse
The thrill has left, some bereft, up is effed
That’s when a troll can glut, glut, glut, glut! ♫

Rated R, 94 Minutes
D: Azazel Jacobs
W: Azazel Jacobs
Genre: Midlife crisis issues
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: Old folks
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: Divorced folks

♪ Parody inspired by “A Veritable Smorgasbord”

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