Title: Lovers and Other Problems
Directors: Hannah Davis and David Conolly (‘Mothers and Daughters,’ ‘The Understudy’)
Starring: Joanna Pecover, Miranda Hart, Hannah Davis, David Conolly and Simone Bowkett
Independent films can sometimes be the most memorable, as the directors encourage more realistic, emotional performances to make up for the lack of budget and stunts. Unfortunately, the new British comedy ‘Lovers and Other Problems,’ which was co-directed by David Conolly and Hannah Davis, failed to believably showcase the difficulties many people are facing today. The ensemble cast features too many characters and conflicts that provide no interest or emotional connections to the viewers, despite Conolly and Davis’ best efforts.
‘Lovers and Other Problems’ follows Emma (played by Joanna Pecover) and her husband Dan (portrayed by Conolly), a vicar, as they prepare to move their family to the English countryside for his job. While Dan is eager to start their new life, Emma is hesitant to leave London and her friends there, particularly Kate (played by Miranda Hart), with whom she’s having an affair. Emma convinces Dan to accompany her to a dinner party Kate is throwing with her sister Dolly (portrayed by Davis), in an effort to show him what they would be missing if they moved.
While at the dinner, Emma fights her feelings for Kate, as she’s afraid to leave Dan, since she has no job, and he and their children are all she really has. Kate is dealing with her own problems, as she’s conflicted over telling her mother she’s gay. However, she feels compelled to encourage Emma to reveal their relationship, so that they can finally be openly together. Dan, meanwhile, battles his physical attraction to Dolly’s friend Sam (played by Simone Bowkett), a supermodel who seemingly has no moral compass.
Conolly and Davis deserve credit for aiming to showcase the diverse, true-to-life personal problems many people face among all of the characters in ‘Lovers and Other Problems,’ such as Kate fearing to divulge her true personality to her mother over fear of rejection. Emma and Dan are also facing the difficulties many married couples with children experience, such as no longer being able to relate to, and understand, each other. However, the comedy fails to include any true plot-line or characters aiming to resolve their problems.
There are so many main characters stressing over their numerous conflicts in ‘Lovers and Other Problems’ that the filmmakers left no time to fully resolve any of them. Viewers will likely have a hard time connecting or relating to, much less keep track of, all the characters that they’ll lose interest in caring about anyone in the film. Like with all movies featuring ensemble casts, directors have to provide fully developed characters with intriguing backgrounds and storylines, which Conolly and Davis failed to do.
Hart was the one actress who did provide a somewhat memorable role in ‘Lovers and Other Problems.’ She convincingly portrayed Kate as feeling conflicted over what she wanted from life, and what direction she should take. Kate wants to impress her mother and win her approval, but doesn’t feel that she can fit into the perfect lifestyle that she has created in her mind for her daughters. She believes that being with Emma will make her happy. But she continuously debates if she should reveal their affair, as she worries how the revelation will affect both of their lives. After Kate learns of Dan and Emma’s decision to move, she undergoes a remarkable transformation, and finally gains the courage to go after what she wants.
‘Lovers and Other Problems’ is a humble look into the lives of the Western middle class, and the lengths people will go to in order to achieve their goals. While the large ensemble cast Conolly and Davis featured in the comedy was meant to feature the numerous problems and conflicts the working class often face and relate to, the comedy was unfortunately at times confusing. While Hart gave an intriguing performance, the comedy would have fared better if the directors cut out several characters.
Written by: Karen Benardello