1921. An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.
In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city's subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he ... See full summary »
Leonard Kraditor is a burned-out case, living with his immigrant parents after his fiancée left him, helping out at their Brooklyn dry cleaners, taking photographs, at loose ends, suicidal. In quick succession, he meets two women: Sandra, the daughter of his parents' business associates, frank, direct, sensual, Jewish like Leonard; and, his neighbor Michelle, mercurial, rootless, fun, blond, unattainable. Michelle is in love with a married man and cries on Leonard's shoulder; Sandra wants to save him. Is Leonard willing to risk losing Sandra's fidelity for the moments Michelle's moods swing toward him? Can this end well? Written by
I liked this fourth film of James Gray very much. It is interesting, nuanced, well photographed and directed. The casting is very fitting: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Isabella Rossellini require no introduction - every film where they appeared was a kind of success.
I liked the story line precisely for the reasons some of the critics did not - inconclusiveness of the situation. The narrative should not be treated as a moral tale with prescribed behavior and a suggestion to act certain way. For some of us, who lived and experienced, life situations have no clear conclusions, especially in the matter concerning personal relationships. And so we are shown various geometrical configurations of relationships between people: A loves B, B loves C, C loves D; D perhaps does not love anyone; C can not settle for B and returns to D when D calls; B settles for A. Who's right and who's wrong? Luckily this is not all there is about this film. There are interesting shots, exotic locations (Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY), very good acting.
Some reviewers complained that the narrative is too predictable - perhaps. I personally would prefer more broader metaphor, perhaps more connection with social dimension, more resonance between personal and social. Oh well, I hope this is coming in the next Gray's films.
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