“Two Lovers” stars Joaquin Phoenix as a young man in outer-borough New York caught between an inchoate desire for freedom and the constricting demands of family, neighborhood and kind.
...“Two Lovers” is a romantic comedy, in that it deals with the predicament of an indecisive young man forced to choose between two women: one sensible, familiar and devoted to him and the other wild, exotic and capricious...Mr. Phoenix’s character, Leonard, lives with his parents in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, and works in his father’s dry cleaning establishment. Like the melancholy descendant of an early Philip Roth protagonist, he is caught between a nice, mama-approved Jewish girl (Vinessa Shaw) and a willowy blonde (Gwyneth Paltrow) from outside the tribe. Though it takes place in the present, the look and mood of “Two Lovers” are old-fashioned, perhaps even anachronistic, but nonetheless there is something grand about the film’s sincerity and the intensity of its emotions. Such tsuris, as they say in France.