Two Lovers (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/03/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Engaging, watchable drama with terrific performances from Phoenix, Paltrow and Shaw, though it doesn't quite pack the emotional punch you're expecting.

What's it all about?
Directed by James Gray (The Yards, We Own The Night), Two Lovers stars Joaquin Phoenix (marking his third collaboration with Gray) as Leonard, a 30-something guy who moves back in with his parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov) following a broken engagement and a nervous breakdown. When they introduce him to a nice Jewish girl (Vinessa Shaw as Sandra), Leonard begins dating her, but he's also drawn to his new neighbour Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), whose apartment window he can see from his room.

As things progress with Michelle, Leonard starts dating both women simultaneously, but things get complicated when it transpires that Michelle is also involved with a married man (Elias Koteas).

The Good
Phoenix is excellent, managing to keep Leonard likeable and sympathetic, despite both his vaguely creepy stalkerish tendencies and the fact that he essentially two-times both women. There's also strong support from both Gwyneth Paltrow (please do more movies, Gwyneth Paltrow!) and Vinessa Shaw, with subtle contrasts in their characters that allow you to see the different things that Leonard gets out of both relationships.

The film is intriguingly shot, with an oddly claustrophobic vibe that makes it feel as if Leonard never leaves the apartment, even though that's not actually the case. Gray also orchestrates some superb scenes, such as a rooftop rendezvous between Leonard and Michelle.

The Bad
The main problem is that the film pulls its emotional punches, resulting in an unsatisfying ending that doesn't quite work. Part of this is because it's difficult to know how you're meant to react to Leonard's character at the end, since the film denies you the obvious ending.

Worth seeing?
That said, Two Lovers is never less than watchable and is worth seeing for the performances. Here's hoping Joaquin Phoenix is only joking when he says he's giving up acting.

Film Trailer

Two Lovers (15)
Two Lovers has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 16/12/2017 05:20

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