Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
TWO LOVERS MOVIE REVIEW
Directed by: James Gray
Running time: 118 minutes
Release date: February 13, 2009 & Premiered on HDNet Ultra (1/16)
Genre: Drama and Romance
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
While most films have some aspect of romance between characters at least as a subplot, a "dramance" (dramatic romance) movie can be loosely defined as any film in which the central plot revolves around the romantic involvement of the story's protagonists. Common themes in a "dramance" include the character in the film making decisions based on newly found romantic attraction.
In Two Lovers, a dramatic reality of emotions are expressed by the characters. Joaquin Phoenix, as Leonard, is the lead character who displays an emotionally dysfunctional syndrome known to be bipolar disorder. He is thirty-something year old young Jewish man who returns to his Brighton Beach, Brooklyn parents' home after being dumped by a woman he planned to marry. His mental stability threatens to derail an emerging romance his parents set up for him. Joaquin Phoenix gives a raw and vulnerable performance as a charismatic but troubled young man who is obsessed with a neighboring mysterious woman named Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), who carries a lot of baggage. She's in love with a married man. Meanwhile, Leonard's mother and father (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Monoshov) introduces him to a nice Jewish girl named Sandra (Vinessa Shaw) who is looking to hook him in marriage.
Filmmaker James Gray has directed Joaquin Phoenix in a few of his movies and told me in an interview that "it has been a rewarding relationship." Two Lovers is an affectionate tale of love amongst people's mentally unstable patterns.
This emerging narrative is successful in bringing out terrific performances by a brilliant ensemble. The film's conclusion left me with a bitter-sweet feeling. This is not to say I dislike the film because I did enjoy it - but I began to feel emotionally unbalanced during its final scenes. I can only attribute this feeling to the talented cast pushing the boundaries of the genre with this challenging script.
This is good solid movie and performance for Joaquin Phoenix's last film, before he enters the music business as a "rapper".
FILM RATING (B+)