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Two Lovers (2008)


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Two Lovers is like a really long Friends episode with no jokes. I liked We Own The Night because James Gray can whip out some terrific camerawork (such as the car chase in the rain scene). But Two Lovers just doesn't have the plot to sustain Joaquin Phoenix or its thoughtful pacing. Anyone else catch it yet?

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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  • 11 months later...

I just watched it, and was impressed. I can't figure out why, though. Phoenix is very good here, as are the other actors, but he really holds the movie together. My wife was less impressed. She didn't like Phoenix's character and couldn't figure out why anyone else would. I enjoyed the mystery about his background, and once that was resolved, was caught up enough in the story to see it through to the end. I appreciated that the film didn't

end with his suicide

, which would have been miserable. Still, what about it held my interest? I can't say. Maybe the visuals, although they didn't strike me as extraordinary.

I guess I need to see more James Gray. I'd heard he was an overrated bore, but based on this film, I'm not convinced of that. At all.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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> "which would have been miserable"

No doubt. Yesterday I watched Phillipe Garrel's Frontier of Dawn, which is the kind of movie that gives pretentious French art films a bad name. It's shaped like Two Lovers, though, and reminded me of it a great deal. It ends exactly how you feared Two Lovers would, and it's every bit as miserable as you'd imagine. I heard a wonderfully pithy summary of what makes the tragedy of Two Lovers so affecting: "What we love is not always what's best for us."

My friend Andrew writes better than anyone about James Gray:

"The Long Gray Line: Returning to The Yards"

"Subverting the Moment: James Gray on We Own the Night"

Edited by Darren H
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Thank you, Darren. I'm going to tackle those links when I'm feeling a little better. Have come down with a stomach bug. Prayers appreciated.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 3 weeks later...

My thoughts.

On the movie, not on Christian's stomach bug, which I sincerely hope is feeling better now.

Great essay Jeff.

I really liked this movie, but watched it with two friends who really didn't. They didn't like the fact that it didn't wrap up with either a clearly happy ending (which they would have preferred), or with a clearly tragic ending (which they would have tolerated). I think that something else that bugged that was the fact that the "good" girl, who they could more closely identify with, seems to

get the short end of the stick in the end.

Like you, I really liked how hard it was to decide whether to cheer Leonard's decision or mourn it. Every time I start to do one or the other I get, "But what about...?" in the back of my mind.

Edited by Cunningham

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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