Two Lovers


Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. As in a good European film, shots are allowed to breathe. The focus is on character and human emotion. At the same time, the movie shows an American concern for pace and story development. The result is the best of both worlds.
  2. James Gray's Two Lovers really is a '70s movie, in the mode of such raw, unfiltered character studies as "The Panic in Needle Park," "Wanda," and "Fat City."
  3. Joaquin Phoenix is as good as he has ever been in James Gray's Two Lovers, a discomfortingly honest drama about the frustrations of love and desire.
  4. 90
    Gray's peculiar accomplishment here is to turn this story into an intense emotional drama, beautifully photographed and profoundly ambiguous, suspended somewhere between realism and psychosexual allegory.
  5. For a filmmaker who has made his reputation with such crime thrillers as "Little Odessa" and "The Yards," James Gray reveals an unexpected gift for the mysteries of romance.
  6. 88
    The whole movie is so well-cast and performed that we watch it unfolding without any particular awareness of "acting."
  7. 88
    The movie is supremely nonjudgmental and balanced.
  8. Phoenix plays the romantic lead with great intelligence and enormous charm, making his character's conflict utterly believable, and Paltrow positively glows as the radiant shiksa who dazzles him.
  9. 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.
  10. Themes of loneliness, alienation and unrequited love are not new, but there is always that sense of the unexpected in Phoenix that keeps you curious.
  11. 80
    However moody, though, Two Lovers didn't strike me as a downer, for the simple reason that it wells with sights and sounds that are guaranteed to lift, not sink, the spirits.
  12. 80
    The performances are solid: pulling inward in every scene, Phoenix taps into the New York loneliness that defined Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, and Rossellini is excellent as the worried mother, who doesn't have much to say but watches her beloved boy like a cat.
  13. 78
    Two Lovers is an intensely felt, character-driven film, and there's no stronger character onscreen – not even Leonard – than Leonard's wise, Jewish mother, Ruth, played with effortless, pure perfection by Rossellini.
  14. 75
    The characters are all a little too old for this sort of drama, and they know it, but that makes Two Lovers as much about last chances as new loves.
  15. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Joaquin Phoenix gives a superbly raw and excruciatingly vulnerable performance.
  16. 75
    The film's secrets unfold slowly, allowing Phoenix and Paltrow -- a luminous fusion of grace and grit -- to build a relationship in full. The script, by Gray and Richard Menello, is inspired by Dostoevsky's "White Nights."
  17. Not always believable, but the film has a moody expressiveness that stays with you.
  18. A small, delicate concoction of moods and moments, far quieter than all the current Phoenix-related hoopla. But his heartbreaking performance may incline audiences to think of him in a new light, or at least return to thinking of him in the old one.
  19. 75
    In the movies, romantic love conquers all. In reality, it's a little different, and that's what Gray is trying to show.
  20. A throwback in style, pace, and storytelling to the 1970s and the downbeat mood pieces of directors like Bob Rafelson.
  21. The movie feels operatic at times. Tempestuous arias play on the soundtrack, and Puccini figures directly.
  22. Two Lovers is two movies – the complex, alluring one we want, and the simple, pedestrian one we'll settle for.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    This very New York tale is old-fashioned in good ways that have to do with solid storytelling, craftsmanship and emotional acuity.
  24. 70
    The flaws in Two Lovers are inseparable from its strengths. You could, I suppose, criticize the movie for being too sincere; too generous to its imperfect, self-deluded characters; too absorbed in their small crises and disproportionate reactions. But that criticism might sound a lot like praise.
  25. 70
    The movie's chief value is to preserve Phoenix at the height of his wary physical grace, which recalls a young Marlon Brando.
  26. Reviewed by: Olivia Putnal
    The dynamic between Leonard and his lovers is uncomfortable and not in the good way like Ricky Gervais's dancing.
  27. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The storytelling here is at times as awkward as its hero, and since it is a Gray film Two Lovers takes itself dreadfully seriously. Yet it's one of the few movies I've seen recently that improves on a second viewing, in part because Phoenix does such remarkably subtle work.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 83 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Feb 21, 2012
    One of the most beautiful love dramas in the recent years with great performances of an actors playing grown up but emotionally immatureOne of the most beautiful love dramas in the recent years with great performances of an actors playing grown up but emotionally immature characters.some people are dismissing this film by saying that these characters act like teenagers but that's exactly what makes this film stand out,cause people like this do exist. Full Review »
  2. MasterO
    May 4, 2009
    Gorgeous and affecting movie. The only reason I could knock it is because it's tough to believe that two women would fall all over Gorgeous and affecting movie. The only reason I could knock it is because it's tough to believe that two women would fall all over themselves for a thirty-something dry-cleaning heir who lives with his parents-- but I guess that is one of those "he's Juaquin Phoenix, he's hot enough to make it happen" moments. Great movie. Full Review »
  3. RudyM.
    Feb 19, 2009
    Simply wonderful, the best movie of the decade since Lost In Translation.