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TWO LOVERS

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Photograph courtesy of Magnolia

Showbiz retirements are often fleeting (ask Jay-Z), but Joaquin Phoenix insists he's given up movies. That would make director James Gray's Two Lovers the actor's swan song—and while it's not an insta-classic like Walk the Line, it makes for a worthy final act. Phoenix plays Leonard Kraditor, a man torn between Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious and romantically tortured neighbor, and Sandra, a pretty but unalluring family friend. It sounds like a perfect setup for Hollywood melodrama (catfight! Breakdown! Ugly-duckling makeover!). But Two Lovers delivers subtlety that befits the Dostoevsky short story it's based on. Michelle sends mixed signals without coming across as heartless, Sandra wrestles with her taxing ignorance, and Leonard broods, pines, and agonizes before ultimately making a life-changing decision with halfhearted resolve—something Phoenix could perhaps relate to. David Walters



The film's trailer


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