13th October 2017 6.00pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
14th October 2017 2.15pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
15th October 2017 9.00pm at Curzon Mayfair
Love is strange. Love is complicated. Love is ridiculous. Azazel Jacobs’s latest film gives a plentiful serving of each, as a middle-aged couple endure a boring bump in their marriage. Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) engage in affairs without the other knowing, and there’s an eagerness to let the truth loose and end the marriage. But when they start to reignite their feelings for each other, things become even more problematic.
There is a certain Woody Allen quality to The Lovers – Tracy Letts could even be mistaken for an Allen surrogate, with his black-rimmed glasses and stressed-out countenance. But Jacobs dabbles in his own humour, which, unfortunately, is hit-or-miss with long pauses between the jokes. The viewer often wonders whether a joke is being made at all, which makes things confusing. When the film enters more dramatic territory, the audience aren’t sure if they’re supposed to laugh or cry.
The dialogue starts off well, but soon becomes tiresome and repetitive. The characters aren’t attractive to follow and the affairs end up being the only interesting fact about them. The story livens up a little once the son, Joel (Tyler Rees), comes to visit – the friction between him and his parents sends hurtful sparks flying. But even this feels out-of-place.
The performances are naturalistic, with especially keen comic deliveries from Letts and Winger. The jokes may be occasionally hard to identify, but the actors’ gestures tickle the audience. The lovers of the married couple aren’t given enough screen time, and aren’t too threatening either – despite the vivid and perturbed performances from Melora Waters and (Littlefinger himself) Aidan Gillen.
Like Michael and Mary, The Lovers doesn’t know what it wants. It’s not funny enough to be considered a comedy, and there’s barely any drama. A lot of the humour feels awkward, particularly the more visual jokes. At best, it’s an unconventional romance with a few funny moments. At worst, it’s a messy bore.
The Lovers does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Lovers here: