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Two Lovers (2008)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 158
Fresh: 130 | Rotten: 28

Two Lovers is a complex, intriguing, richly-acted romantic drama


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 46
Fresh: 42 | Rotten: 4

Two Lovers is a complex, intriguing, richly-acted romantic drama



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 55,822

My Rating

Movie Info

A depressed young man moves back in with his parents and finds his life turned upside down as he struggles to choose between the beautiful daughter of a close family friend and the scintillating but volatile next-door neighbor whose passion helps to reignite his lust for life. The third screen outing for writer/director James Gray and actor Joaquin Phoenix following We Own the Night and The Yards, Two Lovers co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, and Vinessa Shaw. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Drama, Romance

James Gray

Jun 30, 2009


Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (162) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (130) | Rotten (28) | DVD (10)

Phoenix plays that schism -- the damaged soul in a hunky body -- to perfection, so well that we overlook the logical chasm at the centre of the tale.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comment (1)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gray guides his strong cast to a resolution that is both surprising and entirely realistic.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gray's direction lovingly toys with images of containment and release, effectively playing out the drama in visual terms - but we never really feel it.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If Two Lovers winds up being Phoenix's last movie, at least it offers posterity incontrovertible proof that, once, he was a contender.

March 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What elevates Two Lovers beyond the mundane is the strength of the performances.

March 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Phoenix's performance overwhelms the slight story.

March 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What made the filmmakers come up with such a 1959 scenario? Better yet, how did they make this hoary plot so damned entertaining? Must be movie magic.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Please, don't be fooled by this. It's all showboating scenes, pretentious ideals and NO realism whatsoever.

March 13, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

I can't stop thinking about Leonard, how I want him to be free, living an authentic life ... but also to to remain under supervision so he won't mess himself up. Phoenix is brilliant here.

May 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

We know the characters better than they know themselves

April 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

... it's instructive to view director/co-writer ... James Gray's take on the effects of private infidelity.

February 16, 2010 Full Review Source: JWR

Tells a pretty old story but gets you hooked on its atmosphere and how it embellishes the heady sensation of shedding the coldness of solitude and depression with the warmth of walking through a new romance.

January 25, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Lugubrious affair involving a young man suffering from weltschmerz and the two women he loves set in Brighton Beach.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source:

This is supposed to be a romantic drama, but Woody Allen could have made a very funny film out of this exact same story.

October 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Trying, unwieldy, and affecting

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Joaquin Phoenix is bruised, raw ... and miscast in the otherwise compelling Two Lovers

June 26, 2009 Full Review Source: What Would Toto Watch?
What Would Toto Watch?

The film never feels dark or gloom-laden. The performances are so sensitive, so convincing, that we are drawn inescapably into a real world of pain and solace.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

It's a fascinating character study, and draws on Phoenix's strength as an actor: playing tormented, brooding characters.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

If you're looking to feed the melancholy existential restlessness of the soul, there are few films that have ever done it better.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

Despair and confusion are explored in Two Lovers with a rigorous, unsentimental directness that is also full of feeling.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Keeps a grip on you.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Gray's use of the Scope screen is meticulous, and the film is much more interesting than a brief outline might suggest - but despite its qualities, Leonard's character remains rather too inaccessible.

June 3, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

I'd call it the emotional thriller. Two Lovers is nuanced, intricate and sophisticated storytelling, as it follows the quite extraordinary emotional journey of Leonard Kraditor, Jewish son of a small business family.

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The actors, all of whom deliver compelling, low-key performances, are mere particles bouncing off each other in Gray's vast spaces and the city that consumes them.

April 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Fresh and Frowsy
Fresh and Frowsy

A far cry in insight from Hollywood's idealized romantic dramas.

April 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Two Lovers is a romantic drama for grown ups.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Two Lovers

A very schizophrenic movie. As in, I loved the parts with Gwyneth Paltrow, hated the parts with that other chick.
May 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

examines what love is, or more precisely, what we THINK love is.

Two Lovers features Juaquin Phoenix as a damaged soul (now there's a stretch, based on what has happened to him since this film) who, while barely coping with life (he was dealt a raw deal concerning his former fiance)meets up with two diametrically opposed women; one, who his Jewish family is pushing on him, wants to protect and "cure" him, while the other, in a daring performance by Gwyneth Paltrow, is just as damaged and even more needy than Phoenix.

The story ark is familiar, and yet it works well here, due to Phoenix's odd and somehow detached performance; charming one moment and yet a ghost of a man who lives with his parents in others.

The scenes with Paltrow and Phoenix together, especially those that take place on the building's roof, shot as though you are an easdropper, with walls in the way as the charactors move about, are sizzling. The cinematography throughout is wonderful and moody, with nice lighting touches as when Phoenix and Paltrow converse from their rooms across an alleyway.

The ending scenes holds enough suspense that, even if you seriously suspect what's coming, the way in which it is presented will satisfy you.

Now some may find the resolution of the film disquieting (I know I did), but really, it fits the charactor, and is honest to the film and all that has come before, however distasteful you might find it. Again, what is love? Is it mutual need? Perhaps. This film certainly let's you ponder the conundrum.
October 16, 2010
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Joaquin Phoenix's performance is superb in this drama film. There is something profoundly moving and profoundly truthful here and I'm sure it has to do with Phoenix's portrayal. Gwyneth Paltrow is wonderful as the girl walking an emotional tightrope. And Vinessa Shaw is a real find. I was also moved by Isabella Rossellini as Joaquin's mother! Beautiful and intense but unlike many of her contemporaries not "cosmetic" A real extraordinary face. In fact she looks more like her mother Ingrid Bergman now than she ever did.
July 29, 2010
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

This deeply involving romantic drama is a fascinating character study crafted with sophisticated direction, and it presents great performances and a wonderful melancholic story that grabbed me completely from the very first minute to the last.
April 19, 2010

Super Reviewer

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