Blog Directory CineVerse: Michael and Mary make for a bittersweet M&M

Michael and Mary make for a bittersweet M&M

Monday, September 14, 2020

Films about philandering often depict one spouse or partner in a relationship committing the misdeeds; that’s why it’s refreshing to see a movie that showcases mutual cheating and Machiavellian multitasking from both parties involved. The Lovers is a prime example of this, with a softer comedy shell but a crunchy emotional dramatic center. Here’s a recap of our CineVerse discussion points on this picture: 

What did you find different, unique, distinctive, unexpected, or memorable about The Lovers?

  • It’s a refreshing twist on the subject of infidelity in a marriage and an ironic take on the repercussions of having extramarital affairs.
  • The ending – in which we see that Michael and Mary intend to continue their cheating ways, only this time on their current companions – is somewhat surprising and implausible. This level of sneaking around doesn’t seem sustainable for long.
  • In the 1930s, this would have been a screwball comedy of remarriage in which a couple on the precipice of divorce decide to get back together. Here, it’s less comedic and more dramatic.
  • The violin-heavy score is active throughout most of the picture, which can be viewed as a plus or minus, depending on your point of view.
  • While both spouses are adept at frequent lying and deception, Michael is particularly untruthful in many examples throughout the film.
  • This is a movie where the smartphone is a bit of a side character; it comments on the ever-present nature of technology and relationships and infidelities nowadays and how devices can be used as distractions and substitutes for human interaction and communication.
  • It’s also nice to see the more reclusive Debra Winger again, who hasn’t appeared in a lot of movies the last several years; and actor Tracy Letts has established himself as a performer with chops, despite having only appeared on the scene the last few years – in his 50s, impressively.

Themes worth examining and The Lovers

  • The unpredictable nature of passion and romance
  • Even moribund marital relationships can be rekindled – at least physically – by remaining attuned to your partner and being open-minded.
  • Cosmic irony and the wayward arrows of Cupid. Despite the logic and practicality of transitioning to a new and presumably healthier relationship with a fresh partner, both Mary and Michael can’t help but indulge in long-ignored passions with their spouse, which risks all the relationships involved and will likely end in unhappiness for all four players.
  • Parents are far from perfect. We see how Michael and Mary’s son has difficulty looking up to his parents and respecting them based on the past stale nature of their marriage; Joel wants to avoid the mistakes mom and dad have made and ensure a brighter and more lasting future with his chosen partner, which could be challenging because Joel is a product of his environment – undoubtedly influenced by his parents’ imperfect relationship growing up.
  • Be careful what you wish for. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side, but it’s possible that Mary and Michael won’t be fulfilled and satisfied by Robert and Lucy, respectively, two lovers who don’t yet know what makes Michael and Mary tick – and tock, too.
  • You can’t see the forest for the trees. Mary and Michael have long denied their buried attraction for each other, despite sleeping in the same bed for years. This movie demonstrates that sometimes the most exciting things aren’t beyond our front door but right in front of our eyes.

Other movies that echo The Lovers
  • Monkey Business from 1952
  • Sex, Lies and Videotape

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