By Bill Wine

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Lovers takes the conventional adultery dramedy and stands it on its head.

And, for good measure, gets inside our heads as well.

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Debra Winger and Tracy Letts (best known as the August: Osage County playwright) play Mary and Michael, a long-married, middle-aged, going-through-the-motions couple each of whom is ensconced in a serious extramarital affair and is both preoccupied with and exhausted by the effort involved in hiding it.

He is involved with an eruptive ballet instructor played by Melora Walters, she with a younger actor acted by Aidan Gillen, and both work at jobs that are located far south of stimulating.

Then there’s their disapproving college-kid son (Tyler Ross), who feels that the sooner his alienated parents split up, the better.

Sure enough, each is on the brink of calling a halt to his/her marriage in order to take up with this newly discovered soulmate.

And then – from out of what seems like nowhere – the totally unexpected happens:  the bond, the erotic charge that used to tie them together, kicks in anew.

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And before you can say, “Here we go again,” they find themselves responding to renewed passion and cheating on their lovers with their spouses.

Now, instead of heading for divorce court, they find themselves falling in love and lust all over again.

Writer-director Azazel Jacobs (Momma’s Man, Terri) structures and shoots the film in a way that makes it look unapologetically stagy, but he gets pleasantly natural and understated performances from the two leads – for Winger (Oscar-nominated for Terms of Endearment, An Officer and a Gentleman, and  Shadowlands), this is her first starring role in over two decades — even if the script is somewhat underwritten where character delineation is concerned.

The plain truth is that we’re just not privy to enough dialogue between the spouses – although what dialogue there is is just fine – for us to get the full impact of their relationship and to truly buy their sudden sexual interest in each other.

But we’re still willing to take the leap that allows us to see them as having become each other’s forbidden fruit.

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And that allows us to marry 2-1/2 stars out of 4 for the insightful and absorbing mutual-infidelity comedy-drama, The Lovers, which works best as a handily handled two-hander.