Director: James Gray
Joaquin Phoenix’s accomplishment in James Gray’s layered romance is a small marvel, a leap of faith by a fearless artist who understands how love can lead to madness, and vice-versa.
Phoenix is Leonard Kraditor, a bipolar sadsack who lives at home with his mother (Isabella Rossellini) and father (Moni Monoshov). Cold winds blow through Brooklyn and the cracks of Leonard’s soul. Yet he has inner resolve; we never pity him.
Two beautiful women enter his erratic orbit. Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the daughter of an old family friend, believes in the warmth of Leonard’s heart. Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the Ecstasy-popping neighbour with the attention span of a fruit fly.
Guess who Leonard falls for? Michelle teases him into thinking she’s available — until a wealthy man (Elias Koteas) enters the picture.
With just the slightest of changes, Two Lovers could almost be a romantic comedy. It has the feel of a good Woody Allen romancer, with a sense of city and an appreciation for the absurd.
Gray guides his strong cast to a resolution that is both surprising and entirely realistic. They find truth in Leonard’s crazy love and warmth in the coldest of surroundings.
Extras include a director’s commentary, deleted scenes and a photo gallery.
DVD Pick: Two Lovers