After the cliched cop drama We Own the Night, Joaquin Phoenix and writer-director James Gray team up again for something on a smaller scale, and though the story is no less familiar the results are frequently affecting. Phoenix plays a bipolar young Jewish man living with his parents (Moni Moshonov and Isabella Rossellini) and working in their dry cleaners shop on Coney Island; guarded and dismally unhappy, he isn't sure what to do with the nice Jewish girl they line up for him (Vinessa Shaw), but life snaps into focus when he meets the tall, blond shiksa (Gwyneth Paltrow) whose bedroom window looks down on his. Nothing terribly surprising follows, but the performances are solid: pulling inward in every scene, Phoenix taps into the New York loneliness that defined Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, and Rossellini is excellent as the worried mother, who doesn't have much to say but watches her beloved boy like a cat.
Director: James Gray
Writer: James Gray and Ric Menello
Producer: Donna Gigliotti
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas, Moni Moshonov, Julie Budd, Nick Gillie, Carmen M. Herlihy and Samantha Ivers