Two Lovers (2009)

When Two Lovers was set to come out earlier this year, the antics Grizzly Addams-looking leading man Joaquin Phoenix forced me away from this movie. I still can’t get over that. He looked like a bagman. I recently noticed listening to Filmspotting that Matt Singer from IFC said that this movie was his number one film of 2009. I thought it might be time to catch up with it.

The much more clean-shaven Phoenix plays Leonard, a bipolar dry cleaner living with his parents (Moni Moshonov, Isabella Rossellini), who is reeling from the break up with his fiancée (Anne Joyce). He decided to jump into the ocean to kill himself. Now he is about to lost consciousness, he wants to live. When he arrives home, his parents are preparing to have a potential buyer for their fledgling business over for dinner.

The potential buyer Michael Cohen (Bob Ari) brings his family, including his grown daughter Sandra (Vinessa Shaw). During dinner the conversation turns to Leonard’s love of black and white photography, Michael has an idea to hire Leonard as the photographer at his son’s bar mitzvah. His parents nudge a meet cute between Leonard and Sandra, but when the two are in Leonard’s room, Sandra confesses that wanted to meet him herself. They bond over their love of movies and his black and white photographs.

Out on a courier run for his father, Leonard overhears fighting in the hallway of his building. He befriends Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Leonard invites Michelle in the apartment where they playful about Michelle could Leonard from her apartment.

The next time that the pair meets is at a subway where he was supposed to have a lunch date with Sandra. Leonard becomes infatuated with her. This free-spirited party girl intrigues the introverted man-child that he has undeniable connection with, except that she is in a toxic relationship with a married man Mr. Blatt (Elias Koteas) that is paying for her apartment. He is attracted to her unattainable nature.

Spending time between Michelle and Sandra, Leonard is taken on a roller coaster of emotions. When he meets Michelle’s married lover, he asks Leonard to monitor Michelle to keep her from using drugs. Sandra feels rejected when Leonard sends his free time pining away for Michelle that he goes for her because she is convenient.

The mood is very melancholy yet beautiful at the same time. You believe the chemistry between Leonard and Michelle or Leonard and Sandra. It radiates off the screen. This is a solid work from James Gray.

Judgment: A wonderful exploration of a lonely man trying to find a human connection.

Rating: ****

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on December 30, 2009, in 2009, Drama and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I really enjoyed this film the first time I saw it back in January. I rented it again this summer and it lost a something the second time. Even though, it’ll probably make my top ten of 2009 list.

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