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THE LOVERS

About The Film
"I never thought I'd miss you half as much as I do

And I never thought I'd feel this way, the way I feel about you ..."

- "It Must Be Love," Labi Siffre

The marriage that has turned wickedly sour and the uncorked lust that reawakens youth in a madcap surge have long been fertile staples of comic storytelling - from the romantic farces of mainstream Hollywood to the heady comedies of Eric Rohmer - but both things rarely occur simultaneously between the very same two people. This is what happens in Azazel Jacobs' seemingly black yet unexpectedly buoyant marital comedy, The Lovers, as he adds his own decidedly modern take to the eternally entangled marital knot, one that is sharp and funny and movingly empathetic all at once.

The Lovers is about an affair - but an affair that heats up, unforeseen, between a disenchanted, dreaming-of-divorce couple who are each already having complicated, adulterous affairs with two other people. Starring Debra Winger in her most complex role in years and Tracy Letts in a breakout performance - as the wife and husband two-timing on the lovers they are two-timing with - the film hones in on the comedic, sometimes heartwrenching, ways that human beings express their need to be loved.

Writer and director Jacobs has remarkably little in common with his film's mid-life, philandering, office-haunting, suburban husband and wife. He has never been divorced - and for that matter, neither have his filmmaker parents, who have collaborated for decades. But what he does have is a fascination for the paradoxes of love and how much trouble, some of it exhilarating, some of it damaging and crazy-making, it is capable of stirring up in the complacent routines and values of our lives.

"I'm in my 40s now, and I see a lot of people around me splitting up. In a sense, I think writing this film was my way of protesting that," Jacobs muses, "by looking at a love that finds a way to go on even when it appears to have evaporated. I'm also always interested in stepping outside my world and observing people in situations that I'm not in. I was really curious about how a long-married couple functions when their affairs have actually become the routine of the marriage. Michael and Mary have become completely comfortable with having outside lovers, to the point that feeling love for one another becomes an act of subversion."

Jacobs is renowned for making familiar movie themes feel freshly entertaining by veering in unexpected directions. His last film, the Sundance hit Terri, broke open the conventions of the standard adolescent comedy with a disarming sincerity. Likewise, The Lovers starts with a set-up that has all the tropes of a giddy, slapstick farce, or even a weepy melodrama of wronged spouses - yet he then defies all those tropes, using this laugh-out-loud situation as a chance to explore the subtler and beguilingly funny ways that tiny embers of love persist, even when seemingly smothered in disillusion. It was, he admits, his biggest writing challenge to date.

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