Sometimes you choose to see something because of who is in it. This was the case here with Debra Winger and Tracy Letts starring as a disgruntled married couple. They were definitely worth the price of admission (although it didn’t cost me anything to see it) and it would not have worked as well as it did without them. (original review)
Synopsis: An unhappily married couple are both having affairs, and hope to end their marriage soon to be with their lovers. But when they rediscover their passion for one another, their plans for the future go up in smoke. (Rovi)
Starring: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, and Aidan Gillen
Writer: Azazel Jacobs
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 94mins
Marriage isn’t easy and that was definitely the case when it came to Mary (Winger) and Michael (Letts). They have been together for a long time but they were both becoming unhappy with their marriage as the spark was no longer there. This unhappiness had leading Mary and Michael to look elsewhere for companionship, finding a man named Robert (Gillen) and a woman named Lucy (Melora Walters) respectively.
The film was more about their marriage and them trying to keep it together and balance the many lives they were living despite their underlying unhappiness which got harder and harder as they became closer to their new lovers. They were trying to keep it together until the arrival of their adult son Joel (Tyler Ross) but it wasn’t going to last forever as these feelings would inevitably erupt. Adding another level of complexity to their marriage, Mary and Michael began to fall for each other again thus complicating their new relationships even further. However, Robert and Lucy were not going to wait forever.
Watching these relationships play out onscreen because these characters were real, genuine, and flawed people facing real problems. Mary and Michael were compelling to watch and their emotion was palpable. Even with their problems, both had great chemistry as their relationship was a great example of subtlety. From their relationship, there was plenty to read above the surface and below the surface, using silence and facial expressions to convey emotion. The film perhaps overuses its violin-based score to overemphasize the whimsical nature of marriage.
The real turning point of the film was when Joel finally showed up with his girlfriend Erin (Jessica Sula) to visit his parents. They were planning to tell him everything that was going on, however, things were much different with them than they expected. Although they seemed like a happy family once again, it wouldn’t quite last as the truth finally surfaced with Joel going through a range of emotions while feeling stuck in the middle of his parents. Eventually, things managed to work themselves out in the end, or at least that’s what it seemed like which may leave some people cheated but they were complex characters so it was okay.
The best part of the film was definitely the lead performances by Winger and Letts. As mentioned, their mastery of subtlety and nuance in both their performances made them fun to watch and their chemistry sold their relationship. While they were excellent together, each had plenty of chances to shine, even though the film focused more on Michael than Mary. Ross was just as good as Joel with his emotional breakdown being the standout moment of the film. Gillen and Walters were also good in their roles but this was Winger and Letts’ film.
Overall, this was an excellent dramedy with a compelling and emotional story, elevated by the script and especially the performances of Debra Winger and Tracy Letts.