“And look how he gently grabs her as she moves away. Itis like the touch of a surgeon. There is pressure, but no aggression,” adds Dr Mahler.
“It is as though there is an extra depth of communication between them.”
In the moment, Brad, 56, and Jen, 50, appeared unable to contain their excitement, with both grinning broadly while Brad clutched his newly received SAG award.
But an insider tells New Idea that the candid exchange was no accident.
Taking place in front of throngs of photographers, fans and showbiz industry figures, it proved definitively that the pair were no longer willing to keep their relationship under wraps.
“They wanted to send a clear message to the world: They love each other very deeply, this new connection they share is growing stronger all the time, and they want the world to know their friendship isn’t going anywhere.”
The insider adds that the pair’s affectionate exchange was a “planned” strategic move and was captured in a “semi-organised photo opportunity”.
“It all unfolded like clockwork,” the source explains.
“It was something Jen’s team took the lead on, but Brad was happy to go along with it and let her call the shots.
“Her team tipped off the photographers who covered the event and they were in position for when Brad and Jen walked into the room to greet each other.”
Even before their touchy-feely moment, earlier in the night Brad gave the biggest indication yet that their relationship was well on track. When asked about it on the red carpet, Brad responded on camera: “I’ll run into Jen. She’s a good friend.”
Then, after collecting his award for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, Brad seemingly made mention of his shared history with Jen. During the acceptance speech, Brad quipped: “It was a difficult part. A guy who gets high, takes his shirt off and doesn’t get on with his wife. It was a big stretch.”
At that moment, the televised broadcast cameras cut to Jen as she clapped along with the joke, while her expression displaying wry recognition at Brad’s remark.
The excitement continued when Jen picked up a gong of her own. Mobile phone footage showed Brad backstage watching Jen on a screen as she delivered her acceptance speech. He even appeared to mouth the words “oh wow” while Jen collected her award.
Afterwards, the insider says that the pair “had a great catch-up and retreated to a corner of the party where they talked about everything and congratulated each other on their awards”.
The insider even hinted at talk of the two attending the Oscars Vanity Fair party as a pair – and may even throw a joint Oscars afterparty.
“Then they’ll be able to mingle with the cream of Hollywood and hang out with their A-list peers.”
Meanwhile, the insider said the pair are elated at “the amazing reaction the photos have gotten”.
“Jen’s been sharing positive articles and social media comments and Brad’s just laughing in wonder at how much people still adore their chemistry.
“Nobody can remember seeing either of them this relaxed and positive.”