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'Two Lovers'
(Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, et al / DVD / R / (2008) 2009 / Magnolia Home Entertainment)

Overview: 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 into his childhood home following a recent heartbreak. While recovering under the watchful eye of his parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Monoshov), Leonard meets two women in quick succession: Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious and beautiful neighbor who is exotic and out-of-place in Leonard's staid world, and Sandra, the lovely and caring daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family's dry-cleaning business.

DVD Verdict: The old song 'Torn Between Two Lovers' sums up this film in a few words. Feelin' Like A Fool. Who could resist Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow? Not me. But the movie disappoints. Joaquin's character, Leonard, has been disappointed by the woman he loves. She has left him because they both carry the Tay Sachs gene. He tries suicide but really wants to live. He picks up his life and with the help of medications assumes a normal life.

Leonard's parents,and his mom is played by Isabella Rossellini, introduce him to a new girl, a nice Jewish girl, a friend of the family. She is pretty and lovable and sweet, al good things. But then Leonard meets his next door neightbor, Michelle. She is the blonde, white girl, the wild one and the one that steals his heart. She is so unstable, into drugs and is the mistress of a married man. But what can one do, this is lust and love at first sight. They become fast friends and Leonard is drawn in deeper. At the same time he continues his relationship with Sandra, for his parents' sake. Worlds apart-Michelle is not what he needs but golly she is beautiful. Michelle makes decisions that affect Leonard. Once again, all is not what it seems, and Leonard, does he come to his senses?

The director, James Gray wrote the Leonard character for Joaquin Phoenix. He is the star of this movie-Leonard is dark and brooding and around the corner he is life and light. It is not a romantic comedy, it is more of an intellectual film. ''Two Lovers was influenced by Dostoevsky's short story "White Nights," and Gray considers Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' one of his favorite works of literature. This is a good film, it is missing an inner core that would have made it a greater film. It is a thoughtful film that shows us the inner turmoil of life. And, Gwyneth Paltrow surprises us with a most revealing scene. [Pris] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.