Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both in the midst of serious affairs. But on the brink of calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.

Director: Azazel Jacobs
Writer: Azazel Jacobs
Stars: Tracy Letts, Debra Winger, Aidan Gillen

Closed captioning available.


Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) live in the same house, but their long marriage has become more of a habit than a commitment. She goes her way, he goes his, and occasionally they sit next to each other on the couch, having a drink and watching television. But passion has left the building.

Where has it gone? Both Mary and Michael are having affairs. She’s seeing the sensitive Robert (Aidan Gillen), and he’s messing around with the high-strung Lucy (Melora Walters). So far, the affairs have been kept secret — to the frustration of Robert and Lucy, who can’t understand why their lovers refuse to get on with their lives.

The answer is simple: Mary and Michael share a suppressed but lingering attraction. So it’s just about inevitable that one day, out of nowhere, they would find themselves reigniting their passion. And that’s when things get really complicated.

It’s one thing to cheat on a spouse, but to cheat on a lover is relatively uncharted territory. As Mary and Michael sort out their feelings, they must deal with an untimely visit from their judgmental son, Joel (Tyler Ross), and his peppy girlfriend, Erin (Jessica Sula).

“The Lovers” is the rare film that acknowledges that romance isn’t limited to people in their 20s and 30s. It’s also a smart, quirky comedy that moviegoers of any age should find eminently appealing. Working from his own screenplay, director Azazel Jacobs (“Terri”) has a sure feel for the ways in which the need for comfort can be compromised by the impulse to break free.

Winger, who has appeared onscreen only sporadically in recent years, is terrific as a woman struggling to cope with conflicting desires. And Letts has a folksy charisma that’s reminiscent of Gene Hackman in his prime.

Is romantic comedy dead? Not as long as the genre can accommodate a film as uniquely wonderful as “The Lovers.”

– Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post Dispatch