Tribeca review: The Lovers harks back to drawing room dramas of yesteryear

Debra Winger as Mary and Tracy Letts as Michael in The Lovers
Debra Winger as Mary and Tracy Letts as Michael in The Lovers

The Lovers has the star-crossed lovers theme that was fodder for scores of studio  films from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Even the “twist” in the plot — that the lovers in question are a married couple — is the stuff that made the careers of Doris Day and Rock Hudson

Stuck in a marriage that calcified eons ago, Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) are only going through the motion of matrimony for the sake of their college-aged son.

Their respective jobs are equally as bad, mind-numbering work that they essentially phone in, all of which adds to their walking-dead lives.

If not for their respective extra-martial lovers, life would be unbearable. With both ready to jump ship to new relationships, it’s a seaming fait accompli that their marriage is history, even though they still share a bed.

But then, in a plot device worth of Shakespeare, the couple find themselves kissing dispassionately one morning as they awake.

Shocked after all these years by their close encounter, they eventually succumb to the physicality of the moment.

We all know where the plot goes after this. The old marrieds find new love in their formerly dormant relationship and now begin cheating on their respective lovers.

Director-screenwriter Azazel Jacobs plays the story more for drama than farce, although the best moments are comedic.

Watching the film one get the nagging feeling that the plotline would have better suited for the stage. It’s classic drawing-room drama about the reconciliation of an estranged couple. Not much action to see here, folks; let’s move on.

Perhaps that’s why Letts, first and foremost a Broadway star, is better suited for this material than Winger, who is a movie star first and foremost.

The film aims for a new take on the modern marriage but ultimately misses the mark. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before.

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