Directed by James Gray • 2008 • United States
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw
Set in the insular world of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, this timeless romantic drama features a remarkably raw, vulnerable performance from Joaquin Phoenix as Leonard, a charismatic but troubled young man who moves back into his childhood home following a recent heartbreak. While recovering under the watchful eye of his parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov), Leonard meets two women in quick succession: Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious and beautiful neighbor who is exotic and out-of-place in Leonard’s staid world, and Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the caring daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family’s dry-cleaning business. Soon, Leonard is forced to make an impossible decision—between the impetuousness of desire and the comfort of love—or risk falling back into the darkness that nearly killed him.