Two Lovers



Two Lovers
(Run Time: 120 Minutes)

Joaquin Phoenix and Vinessa Shaw in Magnolia Pictures’ “Two Lovers” (2009).

Joaquin Phoenix and Vinessa Shaw in Magnolia Pictures’ “Two Lovers” (2009).

This is the slowest, most boring film I’ve seen in a long time. Throughout I was wondering what the purpose of the film was because it certainly wasn’t to entertain. Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) is a bipolar man living with his parents,  Reuben (Moni Moshonov) and Ruth (a scintillating Isabella Rossellini), who becomes enamored with a neighbor, druggy Michelle Rausch (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is having an affair with a married man. There’s really not much story here, but it drags on and on and on for what seems an eternity.
For a guy with serious mental problems, Leonard has the knack of attracting beautiful women because, in addition to Michelle (who looks like a movie star), Sandra Cohen (a gorgeous Vinessa Shaw) is extremely hot for his bod. Why? That is anybody’s guess. Leonard is clearly not an attractive man. He looks like Joaquin Phoenix, for heaven’s sake. And his personality makes nil look like a New Year’s Eve party. But what director James Gray (who co-wrote the script with Ric Menello) would have us believe is that this apartment-bound guy would be pursued by two gorgeous women. It was too hard for me to swallow.
The film sort of reminded me of “Punch Drunk Love,” an Adam Sandler film that had a mentally-challenged man fall in love. Although that film made me a little bilious, I thought it interesting and challenging, if not entertaining. “Two Lovers” doesn’t rise to that level. Worse, the dénouement of Michelle’s affair makes a mockery of commitment and marriage.
Good performances by Rossellini, Paltrow, Shaw, and Phoenix are pretty much wasted in this depressing film in which entertainment value was ignored by the makers.
Never has a film flunked the watch test as badly as this one did. I think I watched every minute pass. Tick, tock, tick, tock. There are 7,200 ticks in two hours, in case you’re interested. More scenes with Rossellini would have improved it, but watching a film like this, even though Gwyneth did bare her breasts, makes each second seem like an hour.


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