Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two Lovers

I fired up the Netfix Instant last night and watched James Grey's Brighton Beach melodrama Two Lovers, featuring Joaquin Phoenix as Leonard, a bipolar but in some ways very lucky (with the support of his parents, with the love of a Nice Jewish Girl who, for reasons not made all-the-way apparent, cares about him very much) man who lives with his parents and falls in love with his nothing-but-trouble neighbor, played by Gwyneth Paltrow with enough charm that you can see what he sees in her, but not enough crazy that you know very soon he should run away from her as quickly as possible (and that he won't). Vinessa Shaw (from the Hills Have Eyes) is great as the aforementioned Nice Jewish Girl, and the decision to have her character be not only caring and the daughter of the main character's father's business partner but also actually interesting is a great one. "Not only are you in love with a crazy person, Leonard," I screamed, "but you have this great girl who loves you who is amazing. Go back to her, you idiot!"

Yet there's something about Leonard's choices I understood, which I think is largely down to Joaquin Phoenix, who is as great here in his happy bits as he is in his mopey ones. He even raps and dances a bit which can't help but remind one of his recent whatever-the-hell-it-was/is, which works great, if you're me and love "real life" and movies interacting. And, while to color palette is kind of what you'd expect from a sad-ish 2010 movie about a loner in Brighton Beach, Grey has a hell of an eye for composition. I won't spoil the last shot, but everything about it, starting with the body positioning of the the two central characters and continuing with a zoom out to the rest of them, is just gorgeous.

RIYL: Melodramas, Joaquin Phoenix, New York Movies, Movies About Moving Back In With Your Parents, Visconti's Le Notti Bianche, GOOP (not really),

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