Two Lovers (15)

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The Independent Culture

A change of pace and style from James Gray, better known for his tough urban dramas (The Yards, We Own The Night).

Joaquin Phoenix plays Leonard, a troubled young man whom we first see trying to drown himself. Pulled to safety, he returns to the Brighton Beach apartment where he lives with his straight-laced Jewish parents (Isabella Rossellini, Moni Monoshov). Then in quick succession he meets Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), daughter of family friends who'd like to matchmake, and Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), his beautiful flaky neighbour who's involved with a married man. The slightly puzzling air of unreality makes you wonder if Leonard is simply hallucinating all this romantic interest: one minute he's a failed suicide, next he's got two gorgeous women on the go. It never feels quite believable, though Phoenix is touching in the central role. If this really is his screen swansong – he apparently intends to pursue a musical career – then it will be the movies' loss.