Film Review: The Lovers

Azazel Jacobs’ The Lovers is at times poignant, often funny, and always watchable. The film boasts great performances from its cast.

Mary and Michael have been married for a long time. They are both in secret affairs, waiting for their son to visit before having the talk. Just before he arrives, a spark between them reignites…

The Lovers functions as a love story with a difference. It is clear from the beginning of the film that neither Michael nor Mary is happy. However, it is unclear what form the relationship will take from this initial premise. The film has a great set up, with Mary and Robert acting as teens in love whilst Michael and Lucy deal with more tumultuous aspects of an affair. Writer-director Azazel Jacobs crafts the protagonists well from early on. This means that humorous moments hit successfully, despite relying on subtle expression early on.

The film takes an interesting angle in having a couple fall back in love seemingly at the end of their relationship. The upcoming visit from their son gives the film a sense of impetus; it is clear that this is make or break time. The characters in The Lovers feel believable. The events that take place are likewise. This means that moments of emotion and humour are conveyed well. The narrative plays out in a suitable fashion, although it meanders slightly in the middle section. Towards the end, Jacobs keeps viewers engaged by keeping things unpredictable. The climax plays out well; there are still funny moments amongst the drama.

Performances are good throughout the film. Tracy Letts and Debra Winger act well together as well as with their respective lovers. Tyler Ross is good too, despite having only a minor role. The music by Mandy Hoffman is great throughout the film, going a long way to set the tone.

At times comedic and at times dramatic, The Lovers feels like a genuine film. After Terri, Azazel Jacobs once again shows his flair for creating nuanced characters.

The Lovers is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Film Review: Terri

Azazel Jacobs’ Terri is an amiable comedy drama. The film’s only crime is that it meanders a little too much.

Terri is an overweight teenage boy who lives with his sick uncle and has few friends at school. When he is called into the principal’s office for tardiness, Terri meets Mr Fitzgerald. The principal seems to genuinely want to help Terri, as he struggles through his adolescence…

Terri is a feel-good film which does not take an obvious route. A story concerning an overweight teenager could have easily been preoccupied with bullying issues. Instead, these remain in the background as the film concentrates on the nature of Terri’s relationships with others. In this sense, Terri is just another regular teenager who struggles in his relationships with adults and his peers.

There is a good mix of comedy and more emotional moments in the film. The main characters all appear three-dimensional, each having natural quirks. Humour is garnered from the interactions between Terri and Mr Fitzgerald, as well as the rather unusual Chad. All the relationships in Terri seem natural; the conversations between teacher and pupil are both amusing and sweet.

Performances in Jacobs’ film are decent. Jacob Wysocki plays Terri with a passivity that implores the audience to empathise with the character. John C. Reilly is great as Mr Fitzgerald, bringing a great deal of the humour in the film. Bridger Zadina brings zeal to the role of Chad.

Those who prefer clear-cut, three-part narratives may not be too impressed with the film. Nevertheless, Terri is an enjoyable watch.

Terri is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.