- Director:James Gray
- Cast:Moni Moshonov, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joaquin Phoenix, Isabella Rossellini, Vinessa Shaw
- Release Date:June 04, 2009
- Running time:110 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
"Joaquin Phoenix is nothing short of stunning..."
Two Lovers is a difficult film to enjoy. It is awkward, strained and uncomfortable, like sitting through a snippy, seething argument between the host couple at a dinner party. And in the same way as that domestic discomfort, you can’t help feeling the simultaneous empathy and fascination with the perfectly flawed leads of Two Lovers. Director James Gray takes obvious delight in eking out every pained moment of the inexorably doomed relationships at the heart of this film.
Revolving around two love triangles between a complex, damaged and volatile cast of characters, what makes the film work is that the plot is wholly predictable. We desperately hope that these familiar souls will find a way out of their own shortcomings, but that they never do is what really hits home. We are reminded of the arbitrary course of our own lives, the repeated patterns of behaviour born of selfishness or desperation that sometimes – for no reason – can turn out for the best.
Joaquin Phoenix is nothing short of stunning as the agonisingly naïve Leonard. Avoiding the familiar portrait of debilitating mental illness, Phoenix’s Leonard is a grown man struggling to engage with a world just out of his grasp. Also in rare form are Gwyneth Paltrow as Leonard’s femme fatale obsession, and the luminous Vinessa Shaw as the reality behind his fantasy. As painstakingly realised as the performances is the production design, and the resulting film feels like every frame has been hand crafted from bittersweet personal experience.
Being reminded of these unsettling truths of our own lives isn’t what a lot of people look for in a night out at the cinema. But if you’re looking to feed the melancholy existential restlessness of the soul, there are few films that have ever done it better.