Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) is in over his head—quite literally, in the opening scene of Two Lovers. He's jumped into the murky waters off Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn, New York, and is rescued by a passing stranger. He offers his rescuer a half-hearted "thank you" before casually sauntering home. And when his worried mom (Isabella Rossellini) sees that he's dripping wet, Leonard assures her "I won't do it again." It seems he's not so much a man who wants to die as one who's lost and directionless. More adrift than drowning.
We soon realize why. This 30-something guy is living at home with his overprotective parents while he recovers from a recent broken engagement. He's stuck working in their dry cleaning business instead of pursuing his passion for photography. And he's bipolar, a fact his staid parents discuss in hushed tones outside his bedroom door.
The night of his bridge-jumping, Leonard meets Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the daughter of family friends who own a dry cleaning business across town. She's quiet and sweet and pretty. All lovely smiles to his awkward unkemptness. They agree to go out, but before they can follow through, Leonard also meets new neighbor Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). She's hot and loud and full of raw vulnerability. She's as much of a mess as Leonard is. They start texting and phoning and hollering to each other across their adjacent windows.
Soon Leonard is in the beginning stages of relationship with both women. He's utterly taken with Michelle, following her in their neighborhood, going clubbing with her and her girlfriends, meeting her married boyfriend at her request he check him out. Through it all, Michelle seems unaware of the intense power she wields with her fragility and neediness. ...1
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