The Lovers

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Lovers Movie Poster Image
Mature drama about middle-aged couple; sex, cursing.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sometimes the thing you want isn't the thing that's best for you. Jealousy can ignite passions. The movie suggests that there's some excitement in the act of cheating itself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A husband secretly has a serious girlfriend; his wife secretly has a serious boyfriend. Both are eager to and afraid to leave their spouses. Both partners constantly lie to each other and to their lovers.


A son throws things around the house angrily when he learns his parents are splitting up.


An old married couple have sex together but no nudity is shown. Both have promised long-time lovers that they'll leave their marriage.  A man's hand is seen on a woman's breast. A man's head is seen between the legs of a woman. A woman screams as she reaches orgasm.



"F--k," "s--t," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lovers is a 2017 drama about complex, middle-aged, married adult lives and their romantic and sexual components. The powerful feelings exhibited by a 60-ish couple may surprise teenagers who think romance ends far earlier. Adultery, lying, sexual obsession, loyalty, and boredom are all on display, but the film offers no black-and-white answers to questions that young viewers may raise. Expect to see people in bed together, kissing and touching. A man's hand is seen covering a breast, but no nudity is shown. A man's head is seen between the legs of a woman. A woman screams as she reaches orgasm. Adults drink wine and language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "damn."

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What's the story?

As THE LOVERS begins, Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger), married for decades, are both carrying on long-term affairs, promising their lovers to leave the marriage and start new lives. Mary pretends to work late but visits Robert (Aidan Gillan). Michael argues with the hot-headed Lucy (Melora Walters) about telling his wife. He's so beleaguered by the pressure from Lucy that he pretends he's too busy to see her. In the midst of it all, the passion between the formerly distant Michael and Mary reignites, throwing their affairs and plans into confusion. The action culminates when Mary and Michael's son, Joel (Tyler Ross), visits from college with his girlfriend. He has long understood the marriage was empty but grieves as it dissolves.   

Is it any good?

This is a well-crafted, adult work about the high drama and sometimes forgotten passion of the middle aged. While lust and romance among the wrinkled may hold little interest for the teens this might be appropriate for, certain human truths are addressed in The Lovers that anyone could appreciate. Mandy Hoffman's lush soundtrack of orchestral waltzes sounds like scores written for 1950s melodramas, suggesting there's plenty of sweep and importance to the small romantic troubles of ordinary people. Teens may identify with the pain a son feels when his parents' marriage dissolves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how hard the failing marriage of his parents is on a college-age son. Do you think The Lovers suggests that the son is too young to understand the mixed feelings his parents have for each other?

  • Do you agree that the film's ending suggests that some people only want what they can't have? Can you think of examples of that in life?

  • Why are there so many movies about marriage and its problems?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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