Daily News header

Two Lovers Movie Review: Joaquin Phoenix In Lusty Triangle

By     get stories by email

Not to be confused with star Joaquin Phoenix's current headline grabbing split between his passion for acting and music, Two Lovers delves into the quirky life of a mentally unstable Brooklyn man who never got around to leaving home, and his dysfunctional relationships with both females and family. Director James Gray, who excels best at capturing the extraordinary in unremarkable bottom feeder urban lives, as in Little Odessa, returns to that scene of thwarted existence lived out in quiet desperation as Two Lovers unfolds in the emotional prison of seedy Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

The film immediately sets its anxious, muted tone in a clash between crushed yearnings and suffocating daily routine as Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) dutifully makes his dull rounds delivering dry cleaning from his father's store where he works, but decides to end it all instead by jumping off an overpass into the water below. Rescued by a stranger whom he doesn't bother to thank, a glum Leonard returns home just in time for dinner in the depressing knowledge that he can't seem to be successful at anything in life, not even suicide.

It soon becomes apparent that a smothering Jewish mom and borderline child stalker (Isabella Rossellini) is going to get the blame, as she frets over her evidently disturbed thirtysomething son and whether or not he's taking his meds. And who still happens to live in his childhood bedroom in their cramped apartment, where he's been sulking ever since a failed romance. Mom is also currently playing matchmaker, nudging Leonard into an unwelcome relationship with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), daughter of a business colleague of his dad (Moni Moshonov).

two lovers

Meanwhile, a stunning new neighbor Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) catches Leonard's eye, and honing his exceedingly awkward, childlike people skills, he follows her on the subway one morning, engaging her in a conversation by pretending to be going downtown to work as well. A similarly troubled Michelle adopts the hopelessly smitten and soon disappointed and increasingly frustrated Leonard as a platonic confidante and appendage to her life. And he learns to his dismay that she's suffering miserably in an affair with a rich married lawyer, who is not making good on promises to leave his wife for her.

Steeped in the dense aromas of moth balls and chicken soup with the odd effect of both dulling and disturbing the senses, this authentically crafted, even if at times overly sentimental slice of life mood piece is filled with tender moments and occasional touches of macabre humor. Though what such a dazzling hottie as Gwyneth is doing moping and slumming around in the oppressive shadows of outer Brooklyn, is one matzah ball that's hard to swallow.

But this is without doubt a custom fit character for edgy wild card Joaquin, a laundry drone who gets taken to the cleaners in this love the one you're with sordid triangle, where a grownup romantic adventure is the same as running away from home. Two Lovers, where Mom makes three.

Magnolia Pictures
Rated
3 stars

Prairie Miller is a multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio. Contact her through NewsBlaze.

Prairie Miller

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Directed by Pat O'Connor (Sweet November), the screen version is an intriguing romance drama which takes a sharp turn about midway through when Tommo and Charlie enlist in the army and ship off to serve their country in Flanders' fields.
Before the month of October ends, here are the must-see movies to give viewers thrills and chills on the Halloween weekends.
Kam Williams interviews Haley Joel Osment, who played Cole, in The Sixth Sense, as the boy with the iconic line, I see dead people. Now in Sex Ed.
Seemingly a satire in some ways, of Keaton's ambivalent transformation into Tim Burton's Batman a quarter of a century ago, Birdman appears to be Keaton's venture into unprecedented extreme acting.
For movie fanatics and couch potatoes, are you ready to relax and indulge in a stress-free weekend? Well, here are top 10 DVD releases for the week!
It's a movie marathon, and here are some must-see movies to shoo away the boredom and be on trend on what's new and hot flicks for this month!

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site