An awkward goodbye

Amanda Marie Alvarado

Joaquin Phoenix retires on an utterly forgetful note in ‘Two Lovers.’ Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story ‘White Nights,’ the film portrays the life of Leonard Kraditor (Phoenix) – a heartbroken man who moves in with his parents after multiple attempts to kill himself. Leonard’s outlook changes when two beautiful women, Michelle and Sandra (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw, respectively) enter his mundane life, forcing him to choose between a destructive relationship and the possibility of love.

The film paints a depressing theme, as Leonard’s choice of passion, excitement and happiness lead him to the woman incapable of loving him or herself. In a slow moving pursuit, he ineffectually woos Michelle. The relationship climaxes in a pathetic, unbelievable sex scene that actually made the audience laugh out loud. Thinking he has won Michelle’s love, Leonard plans their escape from Brighton Beach, N.Y. to the sunny skies of San Francisco. However, he is foiled when Michelle’s married boyfriend wins her back. Rather than attempt suicide again, he chooses the alternate plan with Sandra, who wants to spend her life with him. Thus, the film depicts Leonard’s proposal to Sandra as soul-crushing, but sensible.

As practical and appropriate the film’s title and the Valentine’s weekend release seems, it is not a lovers’ movie. It lacks emotion, heart and any semblance of acting. The romance denies the viewer the vulnerability and fervor associated with the genre, and felt more like the rationality employed when filing one’s taxes or planning a 401k. It takes all the beauty and impulsiveness out of love and replaces it with a notion of coupling straight out of the 19th century.

The tender moments written into the script completely flop in the hands of an empty puppet actor, Phoenix. His dismal performance may only be toped by his odd behavior on the Feb. 11 airing of David Letterman’s ‘The Tonight Show.’ Thus, the true feeling lies in the disappointment of Phoenix’s fans ‘- a sad and awkward goodbye.