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Lover, The (1963)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In their comfortable suburban home, husband and wife Richard and Sarah calmly discuss the expected visit of her lover that afternoon. Richard agrees not to return before six. After he leaves, she changes her clothes and shoes in anticipation of her lover's arrival.

In the evening, Richard returns and politely enquires if she has had a pleasant day. Later, he asks her if, while entertaining her lover, she pictures him at work in his office. Surprised by his question, she admits that she does, a little, adding that it makes it more 'piquant'. When he continues his enquiries, she turns the tables, enquiring about his mistress. He is dismissive, insisting that he is merely acquainted with a whore. Sarah expresses regret that his affair should be so undignified, to which he responds that he enjoys enough dignity in his marriage. As they lie in their separate beds, Sarah asks Richard whether he is content with their arrangement, whether he is jealous. Richard reassures her that he is not, and she is satisfied.

Next morning, Richard expresses some surprise when Sarah informs him that she is expecting her lover again. But he agrees not to return early.

Patiently awaiting her lover's arrival, Sarah is disturbed by the milkman. She becomes agitated, particularly when his tone grows suggestive; she hurries him away. Soon after, 'Max' arrives - in reality, her husband. They begin the games that have become their afternoon ritual: Sarah is approached in a park by a stranger who becomes threatening; he is chased away by a park keeper to whom Sarah, in her gratitude, makes advances. Later, however, 'Max' announces that the affair must end. He is concerned about his wife. Sarah insists that his wife knows, that she is happy. Max replies that she knows only that he sees a whore, and wonders how her husband copes with the affair. Sarah becomes anxious, tries to reassure him. Finally, he complains that she has become too bony. She assumes he is joking. He denies it.

That evening Richard returns, complaining of a tedious day at work. He asks about her day; she is distant. When she tells him she has not prepared dinner, he becomes critical, complaining that she is neglecting her duties. He demands that she end her affair, accuses her of adultery. He has already paid off his whore, he says - she was too bony. Sarah is shocked and upset. Richard finds the drum that plays a part in their afternoon games, and asks who it belongs to, what it is for. She objects that he is breaking their arrangement not to speak of such things. She takes another approach, asserting that her lover is not the only afternoon visitor she entertains. Unannounced, Richard reverts to their earlier role-play; uncertain, she plays along, concerned at this new development but relieved at the apparent reaffirmation of their relationship. She offers to change her clothes for him; he agrees, calling her "you lovely whore".