Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today My Heart Swings

Two Lovers, Cineworld, Broad Street, Birmingham, Wednesday April 1 2009, 3pm.

Joaquin Phoenix's final role before his apparent personal meltdowndecision to make a career as a rapper, sees him play a bipolar dry cleaning assistant in his family business whose repeated suicide attempts are interrupted when he becomes part of a love triangle with two women - Vinessa Shaw's decent but predictable Sandra and Gwyneth Paltrow's flaky blonde neighbour Michelle. Phoenix swings between the two as rapidly as his moods change, but who will he ultimately choose? Or will the choice be taken out of his hands?

Director James Gray has made his name as director of dour but impressive thrillers (The Yards, We Own The Night) and in Two Lovers he retains his keen sense of milieu, familial ties and character study but elects to remove the crime out of the melodrama this time around. Whether this strategy is entirely successful will possibly depend on personal taste, with the film at times resembling a Hitchcock movie minus the murder but focussing on the mystery of an erotic erratic blonde whom neither the male lead or the audience truly get a grip on during the film's duration.

The result is a gloomy meditation on life, love and laundry that offers an almost fatalistic feel to its' resolution. And yet, despite this palpable lack of romance and thrills, Gray's film manages to charm through its' own resolute seriousness, aided by some powerful performances by Phoenix and Paltrow, and a determination from all involved not to patronise the audience with pat platitudes. But if Two Lovers stiffs at the box office, don't be too surprised if dead bodies start littering the doom and gloom of Gray's next venture.



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