A great film that manages to transcend the drama genre.
There should have been a featurette on why this movie was ignored upon its release.Two Lovers tells the tale of Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) and the problems he has trying to find love. Having been brokenhearted over his most recent relationship, he has repaired to his childhood home as he tries to regroup and get himself together. His dad is selling the family dry cleaning business, and the hope is that Leonard will take over his family's store. Another part of the deal is that he will fall in love with the buyer's daughter Sandra (Vinessa Shaw).
Now, before you start thinking that life could be worse for ole Lenny, he starts up a friendship with the ambivalent Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) and it is quickly evident that Leonard is smitten. As the story continues to move forward we see our character pulled in the many directions, and it is obvious that he cares much more for Michelle than he does for Sandra. As life goes, Michelle doesn't care about him and it ultimately takes one defining event for our main character to realize this.
All in all Two Lovers ind of movie that shows that drama, romance and comedy are not dead in the movie marketplace. Viewers just may not get those genres in the order that they expect.
Director James Gray sits back and talks about making this film. I actually resisted listening to this commentary track because, initially, I didn't want to get the answers that I thought Gray might provide about this film. Finally, I settled in and just went through it and I have to say that Gray never really tries to explain himself too much. Rather, he talks about the scenes, the characters, the logistics of production but he never gets mired in the areas that trip up so many directors.
Behind the Scenes and HDNet: A Look at Two Lovers
I decided to put these two featurettes together because they essentially cover the same ground. They look at the making of this film, the characters, the story, the production, etc. While there wasn't anything that groundbreaking about these things, they do have a crisp HD quality about them that makes these featurettes play quite nicely. There is a strength to all the images that makes them hold up quite well even in this short form.
1080p High Definition - 16x9 (2.40:1) - Two Lovers has a very strong desaturated look that I think was captured quite nicely on this release. The images are clear but things never look as grainy as they do in the indy films from the 1990s. Gray and Director of Photography Joaquin Baca-asay get by using a lot of greys, blacks and other dense colors that make us feel the claustrophobia of our main character. New York is captured very strongly but nothing about this film feels contrived or overdone.
Languages: English 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio - Subtitled in English and Spanish. The audio on this film was really good. I have always liked Gray's ability to get strong performances out of his actors. I never felt like the performers were just delivering lines. Rather it seems Grey has rehearsed them to the point that their performances were almost second nature. This made the dialogue work well within the audio makeup. While I wouldn't say that the sound made me feel like I was sucked up into the city, I do think that there was a richness to the proceedings that worked to good effect here.
The front cover features Phoenix, Paltrow and a shot of Phoenix and Shaw about to kiss. The back cover gives us three shots from this film, a critic's quote, a description of this movie, a Special Features listing, more critic's quotes, a cast list and technical specs.
I had wanted to see this movie in the theater but I wasn't able to. Thankfully, the powers that be at MovieWeb gave it to me to review on Blu-ray. The more I read about this movie the more I was wondering how director James Gray was going to pull off convincing me that a character being caught in this particular love triangle was anything short of paradise. However, you have to give it to Gray because somehow he and Vinessa Shaw pull off making her look less than desirable. Call it good make-up, call it clothing, call it whatever you want but having a relationship with her in this film seems akin to watching paint peel.
On the flipside, Paltrow's Michelle goes through life acting and doing whatever she pleases. She is with a married man in the hopes that he will leave his family for her. This isn't ever going to happen so in the meantime she's doing her best to enjoy herself. Leonard sees her the way that Shaw's Sandra sees Leonard. As a result, neither of these characters can comprehend who they really should be with.
This is where the brilliance of Two Lovers lies... it manages to tell all these stories as it resides in a realm of nuance and subtext.