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Two Lovers
Joaquin Phoenix plays an emotionally unstable 30-something who moves back in with his parents and meets two very different women, played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw.
 

Two Lovers
Directed by James Gray
(R)

***

A troubled 30-something man finds love after heartbreak.

There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned about Two Lovers, said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. Director James Gray’s romantic drama seems “intentionally devoid of any sort of driving arc, of any bursts of life or great emotional epiphanies.” In this austere film, set in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood, Joaquin Phoenix plays an emotionally unstable 30-something who moves back in with his parents and meets two very different women, played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw. Two Lovers is “set, paced, and scored like a 1950s kitchen-sink romance,” said Ray Bennett in The Hollywood Reporter. Known for his gritty crime thrillers, Gray shows he also has a gift for romance, with a restrained story “in which the melodramatic trapdoors of shock and surprise never open.” The audience is left with nothing to grab on to but “the fragile humanity”­ of the characters, said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. It’s enough. Paltrow “makes neurosis luminescent” while Phoenix, with his walls down, is so “mesmerizing” that we can only hope his announced retirement from acting is an empty threat.

 

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