Film & Television

‘The Lovers’ — What Goes Around, Comes Around

Director Azazel Jacobs claims to have been influenced by the romantic comedies of the 1930s and 40s. In fact, he says that he imagined William Powell and Myrna Loy as his leads. But he deliberately wrote the movie with Winger (and “her eyes”) in mind. The three-time Oscar nominated actress had connected with the younger director after being moved by his 2011 film Terri and Jacobs has been searching for a way to work with her since. “It really defined what The Lovers was,” he explains. “Because there’s a version of this film that could have been done with 30-year-olds, or some other type of acting. But I think Debra [set] the caliber and the seriousness and the power behind all of that.”

Winger truly shines as Mary. She looks like a beautiful woman who happens to be 62 — and isn’t trying to hide it. When asked by People magazine about how women should deal with getting older, she advises “Own fewer mirrors,” and warns against using makeup as “triage.” “People pay to see movies with women looking beautiful,” she says, “But I think there’s a place for me to play women looking my own age.”

Winger regards her movie work as an opportunity to dig into what is happening in her life. With The Lovers, she found something in the script that she wanted to explore. But, she insists that she didn’t realize it was a comedy. “I had no idea it was funny from reading it on the page,” she said in a recent interview. “It didn’t become funny until there were real people together. Because that comes from life.” Both she and Jacobs have expressed their surprise hearing audiences laugh when the movie premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Costar Letts, who won a Tony Award for acting in the 2012 revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and a Pulitzer Prize for writing August: Osage County was also drawn to the material. “The movie was about something,” he insists, “But not in bold type on the page.”

The Lovers was shot in just three weeks and includes an atypical original score by Mandy Hoffman, which Film Music Magazine calls “gorgeously swooning.” Jacobs uses the lush orchestral arrangement as a contrast to otherwise pedestrian scenes. He also uses silence. When Mary reaches for Michael across the bed (for what he have to assume is the first time in years), there’s no music at all.

Admiring Winger and Letts, and always interested in movies that focus on grownup relationships, I was looking forward to seeing The Lovers. But, I thought I knew what to expect. What a pleasant surprise to be so pleasantly surprised! The cast is wonderful; the acting is pitch perfect. The writing and directing is simple and true, and resonates long after you leave the theater. It’s 90 minutes of real life, that at times (as in real life) is really funny.

The trailer doesn’t do it justice.


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  • LM May 23, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I enjoyed your review and I’m dying to see the movie. BUT could we retire the expression “menopause set” to refer to older women?