Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Two Lovers succeeds as another of James Gray's chronicles of a slightly out-of-time New York, and it's a relief to see that Gray can work outside of the crime genre he seemed to (at least for now) come to the end of in We Own The Night. There's an screwed-up adorableness to Joaquin Phoenix's Leonard that the actor has never displayed before (and apparently never will again). Gray is full of praise for Phoenix on the commentary and he's right; Phoenix perfectly inhabits this rumpled outer-borough depressive. I'm a little more appreciative of Gwyneth Paltrow's performance than my blogfriend. When considering her performance it's important to note that she's really not ever sexually attracted to Phoenix's character. As the woman who represents Leonard's future in the family business, Vinessa Shaw drops some hints that she's not as a conventional as she seems. The saddest thing about Two Lovers is that it's the kind of movie that gets mentioned in articles about how adults don't go to the movies anymore.
Frozen River gives Melissa Leo a deserved star turn but the rest of the movie doesn't have enough personality. Everything that happens when Leo is off screen is marking time until her character must make the big decision, which feels imposed rather than earned. With luck this will be a calling card for Leo to higher-profile projects.