“The Lovers”

LOUISA: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“The Lovers” is a film that tries so hard to convince audiences that it’s a funny, honest and refreshing look at modern infidelity and a crumbling marriage, but it’s just another “been there, done that” exploration of a tiresome theme. This uncomfortable indie is tedious, boring, and feels as if it goes on for twelve hours.

The fantastic Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play Mary and Michael, a long-married couple who have all but completely fallen out of love. They both suffer through monotonous cubicle office jobs and come home to a lackluster marriage. Each is having an affair with a clingy, needy, eccentric artist; her a writer (Aidan Gillen), him a ballet dancer (Melora Walters). These two can’t stand to be married to each other but once they begin “cheating” on their unpleasant side partners with each other, it turns out they get along great as lovers.

The premise of the story is a good one, but the only interesting elements of the movie is its ending which, by the time it rolls around, is far too late. The trouble starts at the core with the main characters. These are incredibly unlikable, dull people that you won’t care about — which makes for a ridiculously dull movie.

The film has a sluggish mumblecore quality that makes it even more unappealing, with long stretches of awkward pauses, staredowns, scenes of text messages, and unexplained bouts of crying. It starts off okay, but hardly anything happens from scene to scene. And there it sits. And sits. Aaaaand sits.

It’s exhausting.

At the midpoint, Mary and Michael’s son (Tyler Ross) comes home from college for the weekend with his new girlfriend (Jessica Sula) and thankfully breathes a little life into the story. There’s a lot of pain simmering beneath the surface during the visit, and it’s by far the best part of the movie. Unfortunately, it can’t save this tiring film.

I think this entire project would’ve worked much better as a short instead of a feature length movie. I guarantee a movie like this will be hailed as a masterpiece by critics, but they’re just taking the bait. I’ve seen (and loved) plenty of similar movies, but this one is a boring chore to sit through. This is the kind of indie movie that makes normal audiences think they hate indie movies.

“Split”

LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I can see why M. Night Shyamalan‘s tepid suspense / horror thriller “Split” is a runway hit with average audiences. It’s entertaining, well acted and suspenseful enough, but there’s not much to it aside from the gimmick. As with most of Shyamalan’s movies, this one is a chaotic mess — but it’s less disastrous than some of his previous works that are better left forgotten (“After Earth,” “The Village”).

James McAvoy obviously has a lot of fun showing his range by playing the lead character Kevin, a mentally ill man with a dissociative identity disorder (re: multiple personalities). When his trusted psychiatrist Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) learns that Kevin can physically change the state of his body with each split personality, things start to get a little concerning when her patient starts to talk about “The Beast” being unleashed. Kevin abducts three teenage girls so the mythical beast can feed, and the film presents a nice blend of suspense and horror as we watch them attempt to mentally outsmart their captor and escape.

McAvoy is quite talented and chews the scenery with delight, but indie “it girl” Anya Taylor-Joy does little but showcase tears welling in her eyes complimented by her signature pout. The other young women (Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula) basically sit around in various states of undress, breathing heavily. There’s a surprisingly dark subplot involving one of the girls that’s well done but no less disturbing, but of course it’s the showy lead who steals the spotlight.

The story is creative and good enough, but it’s not great because it’s so contrived. Clever isn’t quite the right word for this, but I will say the film is more clever than man-eating plants that inspire suicide (“The Happening”) or a mermaid who lives in a motel pool (“Lady in the Water”). There’s no real twist ending yet the story is crammed with dead-end plot twists. It’s an unpleasant story and movie and it’s not really scary nor really a feel good movie experience, so calling it enjoyable is also not exactly accurate.

The movie’s potential is mostly wasted, but it’s fun to watch McAvoy go full-on camp as a dude suffering from two dozen personalities.