Right before Joaquin Phoenix became a rapper ahem, he released the film Two Lovers, in which he stars as a socially awkward, suicidal, and troubled man who moves back in with his parents after his fiancee ends the relationship. Shortly thereafter he meets the sweet daughter of his father’s business associate (portrayed by Hilary Swank look-alike Vinessa Shaw) and the troubled neighbor who’s having an affair with her boss (portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow).
Phoenix’s character Leonard becomes fixated on the neighbor. Paltrow’s character, Michelle, however, only sees Leonard as a friend that she can talk to about her affair. Heartbroken, Leonard begins pursuing a relationship with the family friend, Sandra. But while things seem solid with Sandra, unbeknownst to her, Leonard is still pining for the unavailable trainwreck Michelle.
Phoenix’s awkward portrayal, in particular, matches the character. Shaw takes a back seat to Phoenix and Paltrow, who are the real focus of the story. But it’s the dialog itself that feels as times weak and unrealistic.
While the ending is somewhat predictable, Two Lovers ends with only a few dramatics. Two Lovers is a strong independent film that just needs some tweaking.