Two Lovers (2008)

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Released 13-Jan-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary-Director
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 105:35
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:17) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Gray
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Gwyneth Paltrow
Vinessa Shaw
Moni Moshonov
Isabella Rossellini
John Ortiz
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Leonard (Joaquin Pheonix) is relatively young Jewish man who lives with his parents (Moni Moshonov and Isabella Rossellini) and works at the family dry cleaning shop whilst aspiring to be an artistic photographer. Leonard returned to the fold some time after running away when his fiancé left him and has been depressed, and repressed, ever since. In fine Jewish tradition, Leonard's parents attempt to set him up with the daughter of a Jewish couple who are looking to buy their store, Sandra (Vinessa Shaw).

    As things start to look promising for Leonard, he meets and befriends Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Michelle is a naive lass from a wealthy background who is living upstairs to Leonard in an apartment that her married boyfriend, a wealthy middle-aged lawyer named Ronald (Elias Koteas), is paying the rent on. Though she has a pleasant demeanour and a kind, insecure smile, Michelle has a checkered past and is the sort of person that makes people feel like they are doing themselves a favour by putting her interests first.

    Leonard quickly becomes infatuated with Michelle, and puts his friendship/prospective relationship with her squarely ahead of his relationship with Sandra, whom he turns to most often after failing to make progress with Michelle. Michelle laps up the attention from Leonard, whilst firmly hoping for Ronald to end his marriage and sweep her away. It is all engagingly depressing stuff, compassionately told; like watching flowers grow out of ashes.

    The title, Two Lovers, is an ironic play on the fact this is a tragic tale of infatuation, rather than the love that Leonard (or indeed any of the characters) craves. Don't let the title fool you into thinking this is a romance! The story follows a classic formula, but is particularly well written (particularly its well-rounded characters) it manages to make this tried-and-true plotting seem fresh. The performances are all excellent, though particularly those of the leads Joaquin Pheonix and Gwyneth Paltrow. As frustrating, and tragic, as it is every time the characters make an awful life decision, the pair bring a sympathy to the screen that makes it impossible to not empathise with their stupidity.

    The bizarre antics and dubious rap career of Joaquin Pheonix (which themselves are likely no more than a stunt to demonstrate his acting prowess) pretty much stripped Two Lovers of any credibility at the time of its release, which is unfortunate as this is an awards-calibre film (particularly in the acting stakes) and certainly one that deserves a much wider audience than it found in its blink-and-you'll-miss-it theatrical run. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video generally looks very good. The image is clear and features minimal grain. The colours are vibrant and quite natural. There is a good level of shadow detail in the image.

    Mild edge enhancement is noticeable in the image, but ignorable. There is no sign of compression artefacts of film artefacts in the transfer.

    The film features English subtitles and English subtitles for the hearing impaired. Based on the short portion I sampled, the subtitles appear to be quite accurate to the spoken word and reasonably timed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The film features a lone English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbps) audio track, which a rather bland affair.

    The mix is decent. The dialogue is reasonably clear and easy to understand.

    The film features low-key use of music that helps maintain the intimate feel of the film.

    There is relatively little in the way of surround usage. A touch of music and environmental audio is about all that reaches the surrounds (even less to the subwoofer). Whilst Two Lovers is not really a movie screaming out for impressive audio, many parts of the film could have been accentuated if the sound field had made the buzzing New York City atmosphere come alive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The disc opens with a skippable anti-piracy commercial, Blu-ray commercial and three trailers for other films.

Audio Commentary With James Gray (Director)

    An engaging and thoughtful commentary track that justifies pretty much every aspect of the story design, character design and production design. Worth a listen.

Deleted Scenes (8:55)

    A handful of relatively interesting deleted scenes. Though no explanation is provided, most of these scenes look to have been deleted to make it easier for audiences to have compassion for Leonard and Michelle. One, in particular, has Leonard going as far as stalking Michelle, whilst she is painted as a little more than a sex-toy. Well worth a look.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 edition misses a number of extras featured on the Region 1 edition, two "making-of" featurettes and a photo gallery, and features nothing the Region 1 edition misses. This is a clear Region 1 winner.

Summary

    An engaging drama, peppered with some fine performances and characters playing against their typecast (most notably Gwyneth Paltrow), but don't get this story of infatuation confused with a love story!

    The video is of a high standard. The audio is clear, but bland. The extras are worthwhile, but limited in number.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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