Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) are a middle-aged married couple who seemingly hate each other. With both parties having an affair behind the other one’s back, the couple have all but given up on their marriage and are, unbeknown to one-another, planning to end it all and make a go of it with their respective lovers.
With her capricious pseudo-intellectual boyfriend Robert (Aiden Gillan) constantly badgering her about leaving Michael, Mary is finding it hard to bite the bullet until after an imminent visit from the couple’s long suffering son Joel (Tyler Ross). Michael on the other hand, is having a hard time convincing his ballet teacher girlfriend Lucy (Melora Walters) that he will soon be leaving his wife for her. Things take a turn for the absurd when Michael and Mary suddenly find themselves attracted to each other again. With both constantly making excuses to their impatient lovers about their future plans, the couple who just can’t stop falling in each other’s arms and in the marital bed, must decide what to do about this new found attraction before it’s too late.
While Winger and Letts play it mostly for laughs, the narrative does eventually take a more serious tone. Jacobs manages to tell a subtle yet charming story which will keep you second-guessing its motivations from the get go. Gillan does the usual menacing shtick we’ve all learned to love, while Walters does a fantastic job as slightly unhinged Lucy, a woman who will stop at nothing in order to get her relationship with philandering Michael back on track. Tyler Ross puts in a rather impressive turn as the perpetually disappointed and angry Joel, as does Jessica Sula as his doting girlfriend Erin who tries her best not to judge the couple despite everything she heard about them from her boyfriend.
On the whole, The Lovers does a great job in offering an innovative “what if” premise, and thankfully manages to deliver on all accounts. A wonderful story told with great humour and tenderness, helped along by its commendable cast and Jacob’s brilliantly judged screenplay. Do not miss this gem of a film whatever you do.