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Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Two Lovers”

(Magnolia Pictures. Color. 1 hour, 50 minutes. Rated R. Directed by James Gray.) Joaquin Phoenix (Leonard Kraditor), Gwyneth Paltrow (Michelle Rausch), Vinessa Shaw (Sandra Cohen), Moni Moshonov (Reuben Kraditor), Isabella Rossellini (Ruth Kraditor), Bob Ari (Michael Cohen), Julie Budd (Carol Cohen).

The Flight of Joaquin Phoenix? Any review of this movie is clouded by Phoenix’s recent announcement that he was giving up acting to reinvent himself as a rapper. It’s further obscured by his newly-scraggly appearance on the Letterman show (spoofed hilariously by Ben Stiller on the Oscars telecast). So is it all a put-on? Well, who knows, but if Two Lovers is Phoenix’s last movie, it’s not a bad one and I rather liked it. It’s director Gray’s fourth film (and the third with Phoenix after The Yards and We Own The Night). All of them take place in Gray’s native New York, so he knows his subject (and the tone is more than a bit autobiographical). Phoenix plays Leonard, a mid-30s Jewish man who’s bipolar and prone to depression. He’s moved back in with his parents in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn after a recent suicide attempt over a broken engagement. Two women enter his life: Sandra, the pretty, brunette daughter of his parents’ friends and the “safe choice,” and Michelle, the stunning blonde neurotic shiksa who lives across the courtyard, the “dangerous choice.” It’s a good character study, but to be honest, it’s a bit hard to understand the appeal of Leonard to these two ladies. Most women I know would run from semi-creepy guys like this.