Some Things Are Better Left Between "Lovers" Review

Your path is already chosen.

After spending the 1970's in television, Roland Joffé burst onto the scene with back-to-back critical hits with The Killing Fields (1984) (winning three Oscars from seven nominations) and The Mission (1986) (winning one Oscar from seven nominations)--a sophomore slump anyone might be proud of. Both films set in exotic locals during a periods of socio-political upheaval and both are marvelous. Then things go quiet, critically speaking, with incredible speed. Last I caught up with Joffé was There Be Dragons (2011) set during the Spanish Civil War--seemingly tailor-made for triumph--but failing to provide much of an impression of that little-covered topic because of his dedication to a oft-formulated love story. His latest outing is The Lovers (2015), which IMDB incredibly claims was released theatrically, about an exotic location during a period of socio-political upheaval that is, as the title may suggest, overshadowed by a oft-formulated love story.

Josh Hartnett plays two characters: a diving archaeologist named Jay Fennel and a Scottish army captain James Stewart--wait really? In the near future, Jay is on site with his wife Laura (Tamsin Egerton), looking over the remains of a ship where they find one half of a conjoined double ring. When mishap ensues, Jay falls into a coma. Meanwhile, back in 18th century India, Sonubai (Tehmina Sunny), the female bodyguard to the Queen, has a vision of this ring (among other things) which her guru explains as a mythic ring called The Lovers, entailing her grim destiny. Some political machinations of the East India Company leads to betrayal/death of the King and danger of the Queen. Capt. Stewart arrives on the scene to transport the Queen--now being impersonated by Sonubai--to Bombay. Love, danger, etc., etc.

When things are tumbling along in India, the story is acceptable. Hartnett's Scottish accent is entirely acceptable. When the connection with the ring and the near-future Josh Hartnett are (supposably) in focus, the story becomes less acceptable. One might argue that without the future-Hartnett element, the story is the carbon copy of some dozen crummy Asian movies. Those films have the benefit of being orderly if unimaginative. Joffé's imagination here is not well-developed. The final act becomes increasingly ridiculous with the India story devolving to fit itself into the unelucidated mythology of the rings that have the power to do...something. When future-Hartnett wakes from his coma--please, "spoiler" suggests something pure to begin with--he says "You didn't think I'd miss our anniversary, did you?" I think they missed the part in the film, along with the example of the ring's power, that told us there was an anniversary on the calendar.

Bonus features

A making-of featurette and a trailer.

"The Lovers" is on sale July 7, 2015 and is rated R. Adventure. Directed by Roland Joffe. Written by Roland Joffé. Starring Josh Hartnett, Tamsin Egerton, Tehmina Sunny.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.


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