Cinema Review: The Lovers | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

The Lovers

Studio: IFC Films
Directed by Roland Joffe

Mar 17, 2015 Web Exclusive
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There must exist in some corner of the world a longing for a Josh Hartnett romantic drama. That is because Roland Joffe’s The Lovers—a film that provides not one but two distinct love stories starring Josh Hartnett—can serve no other purpose than to satisfy such a need.

The first takes place in the not-too-distant future, showing an archeologist (Hartnett) at sea looking for 18th century artifacts “The Lovers,” which are two rings which join together. His wife is also on the team (we know this because, thankfully, they only refer to each other as “baby”), and in the spirit of unbridled romantic spontaneity, she goes on an unannounced dive during a storm. Naturally, Hartnett throws caution to the wind in rescuing his damsel in distress, and the two share one final laugh before he falls into a coma. How will their love survive?

Cut to 18th century India. At their colonial apex, the British are in firm control of the subcontinent, despite quarrelling egos within the British army. However, good-natured Scottish officer James Stewart (Hartnett) is not of an imperial state of mind. He just wants to serve his tour and retire to a farm on Massachusetts—perhaps with Tulaja, an Indian warrior who can withstand arrows and spears, but not Stewart’s kind gaze. Unfortunately, Stewart is not as durable, and the ambitions of both of their peoples threaten his life. How will their love survive?

The solution to both problems—and to what appears to be a century-spanning love triangle—is The Lovers—which is to say, the rings. It’s best to ignore the how’s.                 

Once upon a time, Mr. Joffe was atop the filmmaking world, earning Oscar nominations for The Killing Fields and The Mission, winning the Palme D’Or at Cannes for the latter. The decades since have yielded mostly forgettable movies, culminating with this unnecessary attempt to regurgitate deeply rooted platitudes about the power of love and fate. Joffe seems well aware that this is a story not worth telling, and while impassioned choices might have lucked the film with some camp value, the filmmaking is so hopelessly uninspired that Hartnett’s Scottish accent is somehow not its most glaring flaw.

www.ifcfilms.com/films/the-lovers

Author rating: 2.5/10

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