There's a kind of achy beauty to Two Lovers, a romantic drama about a man who's drawn to two very different women, as it explores the complexities of attraction.
There's a kind of achy beauty to Two Lovers, a romantic drama about a man who's drawn to two very different women, as it explores the complexities of attraction. Is it better to be with someone who has similar flaws because she "gets" you and is just as messed up as you are? Or is it a recipe for disaster to put together two people who are messed up in similar ways? Why do we become obsessed? Is the kind of love that's intoxicating and devastating better or worse than a calm love full of respect and companionship?
The story belongs fully to Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix), as we see everything from his point of view. Nothing happens unless Leonard sees it (and we see it with him). It's an intimate thing, this perspective. Not only do we root for Leonard, we are living with his decisions alongside him, right from the very first scene — in which Leonard attempts suicide. He jumps into water but eventually surfaces and walks away, back to his parents' apartment in Brighton Beach where we learn that this isn't Leonard's first attempt, and that he is bipolar. The narrative swiftly moves forward as we're introduced to the two women who become the objects of Leonard's affection: Kindhearted family friend Sandra (Vinessa Shaw) and the beautifully damaged Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Sandra makes her feelings clear, and Leonard could have a stable relationship with her — along with great joy and support from both families. But Leonard is irresistibly drawn to Michelle, in all her flighty dysfunction, because she's disturbed, confused, and vulnerable — just like Leonard. So, which one should he be with? For some of my thoughts on this story, read more