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Whoa! Wasn’t expecting to like this one so much at all. One can almost mentally countdown the twists the film is likely to take just by watching the trailer. But what I wasn’t ready for is the emotional impact of the way the story is told. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the sometimes-awkward, sometimes-goofy, sentimental and restless Leonard was devastating for me to watch. Just the change in his physical demeanor from the start of the film to after he meets both the women is amazing. Both his character and Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s character in the film act like children and their actions seem so misguided that at times I was tempted to shake both of them and yet I could totally see how and why people are attracted to them. Joaquin’s suffocation whenever he is indoors in his house is so palpable that it adds so much credibility to his actions in the film. Oh and the movie makes some really great use of music. Vanessa Shaw is great too as are Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov as Leonard’s parents. This was my first James Gray film and I am very curious to check out his older films now. So yeah, beautiful but also depressing.

Grade: B+

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