SOMETIMES WE LEAVE EVERYTHING TO FIND OURSELVES.
After another botched suicide attempt, Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) meets two women – one (Vinessa Shaw) his parents are setting him up with, and another (Gwyneth Paltrow) who’s very attractive but troubled… A romantic drama that feels very classical, probably because it was inspired (like several other movies) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s story ”White Nights” from 1848. Director James Gray returns once again to the place he knows best, Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, which lends the film a convincing personal touch. Simple but genuine and emotional, the film benefits immensely from its two stars who are perfectly cast as fragile and foolish searchers.
2009-U.S.-France. 109 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Donna Gigliotti, James Gray, Anthony Katagas. Directed by James Gray. Screenplay: James Gray, Ric Menello. Cast: Joaquin Phoenix (Leonard Kraditor), Gwyneth Paltrow (Michelle Rausch), Vinessa Shaw (Sandra Cohen), Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas, Moni Moshonov.
Last word: “It was difficult because there were no sets. It was all on location […] One of the scenes is one shot and it’s a five-minute scene. It’s just Joaquin walks up onto the roof and starts talking to Gwyneth, the camera pans around, in one section you see them and then the camera moves and it’s one take. I had to do about 30 or 32 takes, something like that, in order to get it ’cause you can’t cut. I remember it was really, really cold – it was like eight degrees or something – and at a certain point, it was brutally cold and you can see it, the wind just going crazy. It lends itself to a sort of a cosmic beauty to it I think, but it was a very arduous movie and it was also only shot in about 29 days, so we really had to move and it was very unpleasant.” (Gray, Coming Soon)