Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow Shine in Excellent ‘Two Lovers’
CHICAGO – How many men have missed out on a great relationship because they were chasing a romantic vision largely of their own making? James Gray’s excellent “Two Lovers,” the film that Joaquin Phoenix has notoriously been promoting in a style similar to that of Andy Kaufman, is a wonderful character-driven drama about a man caught between what he has and what he wants.
As a friend of mine quoted after seeing the movie, “happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” It sounds corny, but this is essentially the dilemma in which that poor Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) finds himself in “Two Lovers,” a daringly old-fashioned drama with a ’70s style but themes as old as the written word.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Two Lovers” in our reviews section.|
We meet Leonard on a delivery run for his father’s (Moni Moshonov) dry-cleaning business. He throws the clothes off a Brooklyn pier and jumps in after them in what looks like a suicide attempt. After being saved, he returns home to his mother (Isabella Rossellini) and we learn that this is not Leonard’s first attempt and that he’s possibly bipolar. It doesn’t help that he was a victim of a failed engagement a few years earlier.
The same night that Leonard returns from his impromptu swim, his father happens to be having a potential business partner over for dinner. The partner brings his wife and lovely daughter Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), clearly an attempted set-up for the sweet, awkward Leonard. Sandra is beautiful and the two hit it off, flirting and planning to see each other again. It all seems a bit too safe for a suicidal romantic like Leonard.
Joaquin Phoenix and Vinessa Shaw in Two Lovers.
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures