It would be unfair to expect a gay-themed movie made in 1982 to be the least bit au courant given all that's happened in the past quarter century, but no matter how much slack you cut Making Love and no matter how much credit you give it for existing at all, it's still not much of a movie. The story of a man coming to terms with himself and wrecking his marriage in the process is tepid where it should be intense, vague where it should be piercing.
Zack (Michael Ontkean) and Claire (Kate Jackson) have a seemingly perfect LA marriage. He's a young doctor on the rise, and she's the kind of TV executive you always see in the movies, ensconced in her large office reading scripts, juggling the fall schedule, and monitoring the three televisions built into the wall. Her big plan: to bring live classic plays back to prime time. (Good luck, Claire!) They've just bought their dream house, and all is right with the world, except...
Why does Zack work so many late nights? Where does he go on his drives? Claire starts to suspect an affair, and she's right, but it ain't what she thinks. Zack has met Bart (Harry Hamlin), a sexy West Hollywood lothario who writes novels in his hillside home when he's not doing sit-ups or blow drying his flowing hair. When the two meet by chance at the doctor's office, they strike up a quick friendship, but Zack falls hard, and after one fling he's ready to leave his wife, move in with Bart, and buy new china. Bart, on the other hand, has no intention of settling down. He has dragged Zack out of the closet but has now left him standing exposed and alone.
Eventually Zack sits down Claire for "the talk," and as expected, she goes ballistic. But then the movie races towards a flash-forward ending ("Two Years Later") that couldn't be happier. Both Zack and Claire get exactly what they want while Bart simply disappears, presumably back into the Santa Monica Boulevard bars from whence he came.
Without the kinds of sex scenes an R-rated movie can provide today, Making Love has trouble conveying the kind of passion, torment, and guilt and that Zack is feeling. Bart upends his life, but the two barely touch, and they transform from boys with crushes on each other to the Bickersons with no real insights along the way. If there's a winner here it's Jackson, who has little to work with but throws effective tantrums. She has a right to be angry. She wants a baby (which she plans to name Rupert), and she doesn't want to live a lie. She'll get what she wants, but she'll have to do a lot of screaming and crying first.