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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Michael isn't a happy man. His cubicle-bound, hamster wheel of a job is stultifying. His girlfriend, Lucy, is either crying or raging.

And then there's his wife.

Michael, you see, is having an affair. And he walks that relationship tightrope by adopting a simple philosophy: If you glide through the motions of a relationship at home and say as little as possible to your spouse, well, then you can keep the lies to a minimum and keep life on a relatively even keel.

The problem is, his new, secret infidelity is starting to feel a lot like his old, plodding fidelity. Hey, everything new gets old, right? So now Michael's started lying to his girlfriend so he can have a night off to go home and not talk to his wife. Ain't life sweet?

What Michael doesn't know is that his wife's life is pretty much a carbon copy of his: a soul-deadening job, the ponderous daily grind, and a pushy paramour named Robert. So Mary, too, has to lie to get a night when she can sit at home and down a bottle of wine alone.

But then Michael comes home out of the blue. Argh!

So it goes. Lies, liaisons, luctual laments.

But then something peculiar happens.

One morning, after a little wine and a tossing, turning night, Michael and Mary end up sleeping nearly nose to nose. Almost instinctually his lips purse outward and kiss hers, and she, still half asleep, kisses back. And then they wake up. And scramble quickly out of bed on opposite sides.

Did that really just happen? Did he mean it? Did she? It's been so long. So, sooooo very long. While he showers, he thinks. While she dresses, she stews. He steps out in a towel. They sit together on the bed.

They glance.

They frown.

They lightly touch.

And then …

Is this how married people who are cheating on each other are supposed to act?

Positive Elements

Michael and Mary rekindle their love for each other—something they thought dead, affection they now realize was just beneath the surface all along. They rediscover how easily and naturally they emotionally connect with each other.

And though, ultimately, they get caught up in the tangle of lies they've produced and pay a pretty big price, it's clear that none of it had to happen if they had only put forth a bit of effort earlier in their floundering marriage.

At one point, Michael and Mary's adult son Joel visits, weeping openly when he eventually realizes that his family is on the verge of disintegrating.

Spiritual Content

None.

Sexual Content

Mary and Michael's sexual relationship is sparked by an almost accidental morning kiss. Before you know it, they're all over each other. We then see them making love in a variety of settings and in various states of undress (that include breast nudity).

Oral sex is implied too. We don’t see any thing explicit, but we do witness the couple’s expressions.

Mary and her lover, Robert, are naked in bed once. They stay covered except for when he gets up and is exposed from his hips up. Michael and Lucy embrace and kiss repeatedly. They talk about "doing" each other.

Violent Content

Joel comes to visit, learns of his father's affair, then threatens to "beat the hell" out of him.

Crude or Profane Language

A dozen or so f-words and about half a dozen s-words join several uses each of "h---" and "d--n." God's name is misused six times, five pairing it with "d--n."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Robert smokes regularly. Michael and Mary both tend to drink quite a bit of wine. They share a bottle with their son Joel and his girlfriend, too. Mary drinks beer with Robert at a local bar.

Other Negative Elements

Michael and Mary lie to each other and, well, everyone else. Repeatedly.

Conclusion

At first blush, The Lovers is simply a story of infidelity. It introduces us to a couple that feels trapped in what they consider to be a loveless, empty relationship—so much so that they both secretly venture outside their vows searching for relief and hoping for a fresh start. But then this winking pic delivers one more dramatic kick to its protagonists' relational shins:

What happens, it asks, when you wake up one morning and find some spark of love … with none other than the very person you've so desperately tried to leave behind?

Depending on how you look at this film, you can find messages here that reaffirm marriage. Or with a slight tip of the head, you'll spot red-flag warnings about all the needless pain we often put ourselves through in the pursuit of that elusive feeling called happiness. Or you might pick up on the film's statement that life and love themselves are both teetering things that demand determined and unremitting work if we hope to keep them upright while we stumble and bumble along.

Of course, no matter what potentially positive marriage messages you mine from this well-acted, R-rated dramedy, other significant issues remain. You'll be witness to the exposed skin, realistic lovemaking and raw language of this movie's middle-aged protagonists. And you'll spend two hours with some rather unmoored individuals who are just as flawed and messy as the various relationships they're flailing around in.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Debra Winger as Mary; Tracy Letts as Michael; Melora Walters as Lucy; Aidan Gillen as Robert; Tyler Ross as Joel; Jessica Sula as Erin

Director

Azazel Jacobs ( )

Distributor

A24

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 5, 2017

On Video

August 1, 2017

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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