Movie Review: Two Lovers
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Just in time for Valentine's Day is the release of Two Lovers, an emotionally-charged, quiet drama by director James Gray. At the center of the story is Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix), a depressed thirty-something who is forced to move in with his parents after a painful, life-threatening break-up with his fiancé. With a nowhere job at his family's dry cleaning business, very few friends and an unintentionally abrasive nature, Leonard is truly a sad sight to behold. That is, until two very different women drop into his life and he experiences an awakening, stepping outside the boundaries he's laid down for himself and living life on the edge.
The first of the two women is Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw), who besides sharing a religious and cultural bond with Leonard (they are both Jewish), is also naturally gifted in making Leonard feel at home, and provides him with an unwavering, loving friendship. Yet, with the friendship comes a sinking, settling feeling for Leonard, who feels pressure from his parents, Reuben and Ruth (Moni Moshonov and Isabella Rossellini, respectively) to marry and start a new home life. Leonard misses the chance to reflect on a potential happy ending with Sandra when mysterious neighbor, Michelle Rausch (Gwyneth Paltrow), walks into his life. Unlike Sandra, Michelle is a master of manipulation, stroking Leonard's fragile ego in an effort to get what she wants while simultaneously arousing pent-up sexual tensions on both sides.