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Entries in An Officer and a Gentleman (1)

Friday
May052017

Debra Winger in "The Lovers"

by Murtada

Allow me to tell you a story about Debra Winger and the ever lasting effect she had on a 9 year old boy. That is how old I was when I rented An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) from my local video store. I was so enthralled that I hid the tape - since I wasn’t allowed to watch R rated flicks - and watched again and again, refusing to return it as the late fees piled on. I didn’t even fully speak or understand English at the time, but I got everything that Winger was conveying. As an impressionable young gay you’d think I’d be more interested in Richard Gere. And sure I found him attractive, but it was Winger I identified with. Something about the mix of pride and anguish she had as Paula, the small town factory girl trying to break free to a better life, enchanted me and I became an eternal admirer.

Imagine my excitement then to see her in a film for the first time in years. Directed by Azazel Jacobs and co-starring Tracy Letts, The Lovers is about a long married couple who are both in serious affairs (with Aiden Gillen and Melora Walters). They find themselves inexplicably once again attracted to each other, re-igniting a passionate physical relationship that has serious ramifications for everyone in their lives. Winger has a prickly but earthy presence that makes one understand why these two guys are so into her. As someone who is involved in two affairs, she has to lie a lot and what a bad liar she is. She forgets the lie the second it leaves her mouth which means everyone knows she is a liar. Winger makes that running joke endearing and funny yet also spikes it with a devil may care shrug that fits the sharp woman she’s playing. It’s a joy of a performance.

Winger is well matched by Letts who amuses as a man who is exasperated by almost everyone in his life. His realization that the wife he doesn’t see anymore might be the one after all, is poignant and full of heart. The relationship and foibles are well realized and take us to surprising places, and the two leads are hard to resist even as their characters hurt themselves and others.

In recent interviews Winger mentioned that the reason for her intermittent work in the last two decades, is that she got interested in other stuff beyond film. She lately started watching more, especially on tv, and that's how she found Jacobs's previous film Terri (2011). She loved it and wrote him a letter saying "If you ever think of me for anything, I'd love to work with you because your touch was pretty sweet." And that is how they came to collaborate on The Lovers.

Debra, please watch more and definately write more letters to the directors you like. We’ve missed you.

The Lovers opened today in limited release in New York and LA.