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Two Lovers
Two Lovers
Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw
Director: James Gray
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2009     1hr 48min

Set in the insular world of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, TWO LOVERS is a classic romantic drama, with Joaquin Phoenix giving a raw and vulnerable performance as Leonard, a charismatic but troubled young man who moves back int...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw
Director: James Gray
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/30/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 48min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 5
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Sharon F. (Shar) from AVON PARK, FL
Reviewed on 5/21/2024...
I really enjoyed this triangle romance story. It's happened to me a couple of times so I know what he went through.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Reviewed on 4/15/2023...
This was unexpected jewel that hits on the struggles of many people worldwide. The beginning is a bit slow but stick with it since the story builds with a huge bang at the end! Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw and others nailed it in this. An absolute must watch! Don't read the reviews or Amazon review narrative or watch the trailer but watch unrestricted with no spoilers!
Mary Kate G. (Marika997) from GRIFFIN, GA
Reviewed on 9/13/2009...
It isn't my favorite movie but it is pretty good.
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

There is Much to Love About Two Lovers.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 02/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I saw this gem of a film at the 2008 Denver Film Festival. It was a hit in France long before it was released here in the States. Directed by James Gray (The Yards; We Own the Night), and based loosely on Dostoevsky's novella, "White Nights", Two Lovers tells the emotionally powerful story of Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) who, while engaged to a nice Jewish girl, Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw), falls for his Brooklyn neighbor, Michelle Rausch (Gwyneth Paltrow). Leonard lives with his Jewish parents (played by Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov), who are concerned about their son's depression and suicidal tendencies. Michelle is involved with a married partner in her law firm. Both are deeply vulnerable characters, plagued with very real emotional issues.

James Gray knows his cinema. He has acknowledged an influence from 1950s Italian films in Two Lovers. "Certainly," he admits, "the ending on the beach is totally ripped off from La Strada . . . and I stole quite liberally from the Visconti movie Le Notti Bianche (White Nights)." With Two Lovers, Gray has once again delivered a rare Hollywood film that continues to earn him praise in France, while American audiences stand in line for easily-forgettable Hollywood romances like He's Just Not That Into You. Two Lovers is poignant, emotionally mature, intelligent, well-made, well-crafted, and well-acted. Gray is known for his talent in bringing authenticity and deeply-affecting emotionality to his work. In this film, Gray raises the question, should Leonard pursue the one he loves or the one who loves him. While Phoenix and Paltrow carry the film with their radiant performances as two frustrated lovers, this is ultimately Phoenix's film. His collaboration with Gray and Paltrow results in the most poignant performance of his career. Highly recommended.

G. Merritt"
SORE EYES | 08/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) struggles with depression after his fiance leaves him. The movie opens with Leonard attempting suicide. That night he meets Sandra (Vanessa Shaw)-a sweet, affable, loving girl. A short time later he runs into Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow)-a drug addled, promiscuous, party girl who loves a married man. Sandra wants to take care of Leonard and Leonard wants to take care of Michelle.

In his relationship with Michelle, Leonard is the strong one, the good one. In his relationship with Sandra, he continues to be the weak man from his past-the guy that needs gentle understanding. It's no wonder he pines for Michelle even though she's going to lead him down the path of self destruction. But every lover wants the chase.

I loved this movie and am frankly surprised by the bad reviews. Two Lovers may be subtle and a bit slow for some, but I found it nuanced and charming. At times in my life I've been the sunny party girl in love with the wrong man, the depressed lover pining for a an ex, and the sweet affable girl who could utter such lines as "if you don't want me, it's ok. I mean a lot of guys don't want me." Everyone should find at least one character in this film they can relate to. Highly recommended."
Haunting look into the human heart
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 10/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It's a tricky enough business trying to juggle two relationships at the same time even under the best of circumstances. Now imagine trying to do so when your mental stability is already in question and your emotional state far from sound.

In "Two Lovers," Joaquin Phoenix plays a young man who suffers from suicidal depression. His condition has made it imperative that he move back in with his parents, an old world couple who live in a spacious apartment in Brighton Beach. Leonard's life turns even more complicated and stressful when he becomes involved with both an attractive friend of the family (whom the parents want him to hook up with) and a beautiful but seriously troubled neighbor he meets one day in the hall. The problem is that Leonard is really head-over-heels in love with the needy, self-absorbed and high maintenance Michelle (who is herself involved with a married man), and is really only using Sandra as a means of getting back at Michelle for not reciprocating his love.

Based on the Dostoevsky short story "White Nights" and the 1957 Visconti movie of the same name, the inexorably sad and moving "Two Lovers" takes place in a world in which the characters rarely talk above a whisper and from which all possibility of joy seems to have been drained away. The movie is almost achingly perceptive about how the human psyche actually works when it comes to affairs of the heart, acknowledging that we can control neither how we feel about others nor how others feel about us - though we certainly do expend a great deal of our energy and time trying! Leonard is not a "bad" guy at heart; he doesn't go out of his way to intentionally hurt others, but he's also not above deceiving himself into believing he's doing nothing wrong when he clearly is. Ditto for Michelle who's too focused on herself and her own needs and desires to much care how her actions are affecting others. And poor, trusting Sandra is the one who may wind up paying for that indifference in the end.

The tone of the film is restrained, subdued and wintry, with the screenplay (by James Gray and Richard Menello) and the direction (by Gray) astutely capturing the dreary emptiness of the characters' lives. Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw give heartbreakingly understated performances as the individuals involved in the messy triangle, as does Isabella Rossellini as Leonard's prying but devoted mother who always seems well attuned to the moods of her child.

Joaquin Phoenix has stated publicly that "Two Lovers" will be the last movie he ever makes as an actor. Let me just state right up front that, if that is indeed the case, it will be a tremendous loss both to the profession and to appreciators of fine acting everywhere.