Lost amid the debate over whether or not Joaquin Phoenix is on drugs, going crazy or having a laugh at our expense is that his swan song movie – another team up with director James Gray – is actually pretty good.
Two Lovers, writes New York Magazine critic David Ansen, is actually worth watching simply for Phoenix’s portrayal of Leonard, a suicidally depressed Jewish man who moves back in with his parents.
“Although Paltrow is radiant (and she nails the character’s ditzy sense of entitlement), it’s Phoenix’s movie. He is, once again, stupendous, and stupendous in a way he has never been before: His face is a graceless blob, his eyes searching for something, someone to define him. ”
If this is his last acting role for a bit, then it sounds like a good way for his career to be remembered by.
“The picture hits little poetic notes that resonate with truly on the conditions of longing and loss; a shot of Paltrow approaching Phoenix from a shadowed alley way; the look that Leonard’s mother (Isabella Rossellini) gives her son as she bids him a farewell he didn’t know she was expecting; the sight of a leather glove almost getting drawn out to sea by the Coney Island tide,” writes Glen Kenny. “Turning away from the crime-steeped mileus of his previous features, Gray aims for a kind of deliberately ache-filled romanticism that no other filmmaker I can think of is particularly interested in today.”
With Phoenix’s antics growing stranger by the week, some are saying the wrong Phoenix brother died. But the real shame of it all, would be another talented actor from the same family pissing it all away.