Two Lovers

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Two Lovers Movie Poster Image
Joaquin Phoenix indie is a boring, self-indulgent melodrama.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Adulterous relationship succeeds, man seems to try to commit suicide.


Disturbing scene of a man jumping into water apparently to drown himself. Upsetting conversation about miscarriage and a D&C.


Two sex scenes -- one is in a bed with bare shoulders/backs visible and the other one outdoors with the couple fully clothed. Michelle shows one breast to Leonard through her apartment window.


Coarse language -- more "F" bombs (at least 30) than usual for an R-rated drama.


Mercedes, The Metropolitan Opera, and Cartier are all featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Michelle and her buddies take Ecstasy and various adults at a club and party are shown drinking cocktails.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this indie drama stars Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow but is not a teen-oriented romance. The movie covers several mature themes like alienation, unrequited love, suicidal tendencies, and how parents relate to their adult children. There are two sex scenes, including a bare breast; very coarse language (more than 30 "F" bombs); and an apparent suicide attempt.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydvdgirl July 22, 2019

I approve

A very good movie about a man in love with two women. Well done.
Parent of a 18+, 18+, and 18+-year-old Written by1nerd February 27, 2009

I shook my head throughout

Boring, boring boring. When will movie makers get the idea that the relationships in a movie need to make sense like real life. Otherwise there is no magic. T... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

With its provocative title and Valentine's weekend opening, TWO LOVERS might sound like a perfect film for date night. But the James Gray indie is far from romantic. Joaquin Phoenix plays Leonard, a bi-polar loner still living with his parents in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Despite his suicidal tendencies, he's successfully set up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the lovely daughter of his parents' dry-cleaning business partners. She's a nice Jewish girl who just wants to take care of him, but he's, as they say, not that into her. Instead, Leonard's hot for Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), the blond, co-dependent kept woman who lives in his building.

Is it any good?

Although several critics have praised the film's cinematography and Phoenix's vulnerability, there's little redeeming the drama from its infuriating, often ridiculous flaws. Whether it's the fact the actors are all clearly a decade older than their characters (and with the exception of lesser-known Shaw, unable to pull off early-20-somethings) or that neither of Leonard's relationships is at all compelling, this self-indulgent character study is just plain boring -- not to mention frustrating to watch.

Phoenix plays mopey well but Paltrow is unconvincingly flaky and poor Shaw's character is just uninteresting. The film features a stand-out supporting cast (Isabella Rossellini, Moni Moshonov, Elias Koteas and Bob Ari), but the central love triangle is such a bust it crushes every other aspect of the film under its dead weight. By the time Paltrow calls her laughable two-minute quickie (two weeks post-D&C!) with Phoenix "beautiful" and bares her breast to him across a courtyard, you'll wish you'd stayed home and prepared your taxes rather than finish this boring treatise on unrequited love and urban loserdom.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way Leonard's two relationships affect him. How is he different with Sandra than with Michelle?

  • What genre is this movie?

  • Was it expressive or boring?

  • The characters all seem much younger than the actors. Are the actors believable playing people in their early 20s?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love artsier fare

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