After making a lot of indie films and directing television (Mozart in the Jungle, Doll & Em) writer/director Azazel Jacobs bursts into the big time with The Lovers.
Essentially the story of a married couple who’re serial cheaters, The Lovers posits that a successful marriage only occurs when said couple takes the final leap of faith — divorce.
Jacobs has written a script that at times evokes love while at the same time depicting lacerating emotions. Much of the coup of the film comes from Jacobs casting two exceptional actors to play the nuclear unit.
Debra Winger plays Mary and Tracy Letts plays her husband Michael. Winger needs no introduction. Letts has played supporting roles in various movies like Indignation and Elvis & Nixon and the television series Homeland. Letts also won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for plays he’s starred in and written. Both actors bring their A-Game to the film.
Mary and Michael spend their leisure time with their paramours. In Mary’s case it’s Aidan Gillen (King Arthur) and in Michael’s case it’s Melora Walters (Magnolia). While they spend time with each other, it’s mainly as a cover to act as solid parents for their college age son, himself a bit of a snob, as well as to preserve the status quo of their domestic situation.
The magic of The Lovers — and it is a magical film — comes from what Mary and Michael never say. They drink wine in silence with the television tuned to a random channel. They go to work and privately promise themselves to tell the truth to each other. But the truth never materializes until they finally leave each other.
Eventually all the players meet on an even playing field, but spurned love makes them hiss at each other like angry cats or make idle threats that have no basis in reality. In other words The Lovers is a reflection of real life.
The Lovers opens exclusively at the River Oaks Theatre this weekend.