It's exquisitely cast as a Jonathan Demme-type film, written as a somewhat Noah Baumbach-ish script, scored just like a Woody Allen movie and directed with the all the subtlety of someone like Neil Labute (who has none). All that to say that this could've been astounding and it is not (at all), but it does have something to say and it's worth watching. Somewhat.
Jacobs happily bounces between his married couple's parallel dissatisfaction and sadness and for its first house it works. Then, there is a moment which startles as the film suggests that true intimacy can be more shocking than sex and then it ends with so cheap a wink at the audience that you want to punch it in the face.
A thoroughly enjoyable martini-dry comedy with a fantastically repulsive, yet always compelling performance from Tracy Letts. The son was overplayed and the packing-up scene went on forever but the narrative twist was clever and truthful to the central premise. 3.5 stars
I, for one, am positively bowled over by the way in which the various primary elements of narrative filmmaking coalesce under Jacobs' wise-beyond-his-years management. Cinematography, editing, music, and direction are elegantly synchronized in THE LOVERS. And there is that killer screenplay. What especially distinguishes it, however, are the two superlative performances around which all else orbits. I mean, wow (!).
This film is absolutely aggravating! For ninety-or-so minutes, you're stuck with a film that's too unfunny and self-serious to work as a comedy, and too shallow and unrealistic to work as a drama. That under-writing also leads to some very awkward performances by usually good actors. And then, you get to that ending, and you question if any of what you just saw even mattered. It's just about worthless.
Everything about The Lovers is decidedly low-key and muted: its performances, its colors, and the inherent sadness of the premise, until that finally hits at the end. Even at 94 minutes, its scattershot first hour, which is largely made up of interjected scenes with the married couple and their respective lovers, feels a bit long, and that somber final act would've worked better had it ended ten seconds sooner.
A great script that translates into a mostly awkward movie experience. Jacobs doesn't seem in control of his narrative or its players, which is a shame considering the amount of talent on screen. Still, The Lovers is an important dramatization of an important subject and it's often enlightening.