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Estranged Bedfellows

Robb Rosenfeld/A24

The Lovers (2017)

In "The Lovers," Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play wife and husband on the brink of divorce, keeping up appearances for the sake of a visit from their son and his girlfriend. Suffering symptoms of midlife crises and ennui, Mary (Ms. Winger) and Michael (Mr. Letts) absent-mindedly drift through their workaday obligations just so they can make excuses to each other to spend time with and pacify their respective long-suffering, ultimatum-giving paramours. As the extramarital affairs grow increasingly tedious, Mary and Michael inexplicably rekindle their passion for each other — which their son, Joel (Tyler Ross), interprets as a façade presaging the marriage's inevitable dissolution.

It's always refreshing to see a romantic comedy for grown-ups, especially one with the intense of-a-certain-age sensuality that seems more typical of French studio fare. But Mary and Michael are such entitled, self-absorbed boomers that they possess little appeal besides the sex variety. It's infuriating just how complacent these characters are toward both their relationships and their careers; their lackluster work performances would surely warrant pink slips in this economy. The escapism most romantic comedies offer is love conquering all, because you don't need to go to the movies just to bask in the decadence of suburban white privilege.


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