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USA: Magnolia Pictures
UK: Lionsgate UK
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Moni Moshonov, Isabella Rossellini, John Ortiz, Bob Ari, Julie Budd, Elias Koteas, Samantha Ivers, Anne Joyce, Evan Lewis
Director: James Gray
USA & UK: 110 mins
USA Rated: R for language, some sexuality and brief drug use
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language
USA Release Date: 13 February 2009
UK Release Date: 27 March 2009 (Limited Release)
TWO LOVERS is a classical romantic drama set in the insular world of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. It tells the story of Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix), an attractive but troubled young man who moves back into his childhood home following a suicide attempt. While recovering under the watchful eye of his worried but ultimately uncomprehending parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Monoshov), he encounters two women in quick succession.
First there's Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious and beautiful neighbour - exotic and out-of-place in Leonard's staid Brighton Beach neighbourhood. But he soon discovers that she too is deeply troubled. Meanwhile, his parents try to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the lovely and caring daughter of the suburban businessman who's buying out the family dry cleaning business.
At first resistant to her appeal (and to his family's pressure), Leonard gradually discovers hidden depths in Sandra. A potential romance with Sandra is complicated, however, when Michelle, her life spiralling out of control, enlists Leonard's help in dealing with the destructive affair she's carrying on with another man.
Then, as Michelle seems poised to fall for Leonard and Leonard's family pressures him into committing to Sandra, Leonard is forced to make an impossible decision - to choose between the impetuousness of desire and the comfort of love, or risk falling back into the darkness that nearly killed him.
Director James Gray is best known for thrillers such as THE YARDS and WE OWN THE NIGHT, but he handles this rich emotional piece with great sensitivity.