Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review: Two Lovers (2009)

Two Lovers begins with a shot over the shoulder of Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix), but it's mostly the sky you see. And it's an early evening, cloudy sky, which pretty much sets the tone for the film. This movie is is quite dark, aesthetically, and has a bit of darkness in its subject matter as well.

It begins with Leonard, who's living with his parents in New York. Some family friends (who are also planning to merge their laundromat business) come for dinner and Leonard meets their daughter Sandra (Vinessa Shaw). She admits that she wanted to meet him. Leonard seems unfazed. The next day, Leonard meets Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) who's new in the building, and whom he falls in love with instantly. Awkward. Turns out, Michelle is really unstable. She's dramatic, does drugs, and is seeing a married man, who keeps promising to leave his family for her, but never does.

This awkward love triangle made me uncomfortable about the whole movie. I hated the idea that the honest people were getting screwed over because of Leonard's selfishness. Pursuing a woman who, not only is involved with someone else, but is involved with someone who's involved with someone. It's best to stay away. I have a very hard time sympathizing with Leonard. Despite his personal past. He can seem standoffish in some scenes, but a complete clown in others. He's shy around a lot of people, but when he tries to impress, he becomes a different person. This makes for a great performance from Phoenix (who, I guess, this is his last film, right?), but a frustrating character in Leonard. You want to be on his side, but it's almost impossible. It seems his biggest vice is dishonesty, which the film has in spades. And, it just bothers me.

Still, the film is very poignant and pretty... In a darkish way.

Recommended? I guess so.

Grade: B-

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