Comments on watching and making films.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

DVD - Two Lovers

James Gray has made a career out of making New York based films that generally revolve around some combination of crime, gangs, and family. He took a break from all of that with his latest film, Two Lovers. The film had somewhat of a weightiness to it, upon its release, because one of its stars, Joaquin Phoenix, whom Gray had worked with twice before, had declared that Two Lovers would be his last film. Ever. Now, only time will tell whether or not that happens, but let's all hope it doesn't, because the combination of Gray and Phoenix is one that seems to be magic.

Phoenix plays Leonard Kraditor, a thirty something who returns to live with his parents in their Brooklyn apartment, after his fiancee leaves him. His father decides that it is time to sell his business, a popular neighborhood dry cleaners. When the buyer, Michael Cohen, and his family show up at the Kraditors, to celebrate their agreement, Leonard meets his daughter Sandra and the two become mildly enchanted with each other. Soon after, though, Leonard meets Michelle, a woman in his building whom he falls in love with at first sight. Michelle has a lot of issues, though. Leonard will have to choose one or the other. Will he stick with the smart, sensible Sandra? or be happy with the troubled Michelle?

It's hard to comment on this film in regards to Gray's prior work, as I have only seen We Own The Night (which I liked). This film, however, blew me away. I loved the tight intimacy of the Brooklyn neighborhood (Brighton Beach) that the film was set in, as well as the emotional intimacy we are able to share with Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow as Michelle, and Vinessa Shaw as Sandra. Phoenix, especially, brings an exceptional reality to his role that I feel is pushing the role a little bit more than any one else has in the past. Two Lovers is an amazing film that has made me a lot more interested in exploring Gray's previous work, and has put me on the lookout for his future projects.

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