Two Lovers

Rated R 109 minutes 2009

An homage to midcentury cinema’s love of New York, this standard story gains life from a refreshing jazz soundtrack and a weirdly engaging performance by Joaquin Phoenix. He plays Leonard Kraditor, a manic-depressive, artist-manqué who’s tried suicide unsuccessfully three times. He is asked by his parents to love the lovely Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw) so as to facilitate a merger between two dry-cleaning establishments, but instead finds himself drawn to the shiksa charms of his blonde-ish neighbor, Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Of course, Michelle loves another, and etc. Then, 90 minutes later, you’re all, “Whoa.” Gorgeous cinematography reminiscent of James Wong Howe’s work adds to the charm, but the show mostly belongs to Phoenix and his surreal performance. It’s like watching, well, Joaquin Phoenix, only with a better script.

Film Credits

Director: James Gray

Producer: Donna Gigliotti, James Gray, Anthony Katagas, Agnes Mentre, Todd Wagner, Mark Cuban and Marc Butan

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas and Moni Monoshov

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