Two Lovers' director James Gray and star Vinessa Shaw talk about Joaquin Phoenix’ last act, Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP, and the “terrible clichés” of arthouse cinema.
Joaquin Phoenix made headlines for his self-destructive Late Show appearance, and an ever-idiosyncratic Gwyneth Paltrow is, as usual, creating media dervishes with oddly chosen words and outfits. This may not be the publicity that director James Gray was hoping his new film, Two Lovers, would receive, especially considering the quiet, dimly lit, irony-free tone of the subtle romantic drama. Set against a bleak Brooklyn winter backdrop, Two Lovers revolves around Phoenix’s troubled Leonard as he struggles to choose between two women, one even-keeled and just a bit dull, the other volatile and unnervingly alluring.
Gray is better known for seamy crime dramas, but he’s received kudos for his latest effort, a film the New York Times says is “modest in scale, but the feelings that run through it are large and intense.” And while Phoenix and Paltrow may be the box-office draws, their co-star, Vinessa Shaw, certainly holds her own. Not known for starring in Oscar bait (her recent credits include slasher flicks Stag Night and The Hills Have Eyes), Shaw has earned praise from critics for her carefully layered portrayal of the girl Leonard’s parents would prefer he end up with. Both Shaw and Gray spoke to The Daily Beast about getting out of their comfort zones, Paltrow’s strange shopping website, and Phoenix’s bizarre retirement announcement.