Reviewed by: Nory Garcia
SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
What does the Bible say about adultery? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
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|Director:||James Gray—“We Own the Night,” “The Yards,” “Little Odessa”|
|Producer:||2929 Productions, Marc Butan, Mark Cuban, Donna Gigliotti, James Gray, Anthony Katagas, Agnès Mentre, Couper Samuelson, Mike Upton, Todd Wagner|
The film starts out with the title character played by Joaquin Phoenix as a depressed young photographer on the brink of suicide, taking a walk with his dry cleaning in hand onto the Sheepshead Bay creek in Brooklyn, where he plunges into the water. He changes his mind and walks back to his parents apartment soaking wet where he lives with his mother and father, this is where we learn Leonard has tried this kind of thing before.
This is director James Gray’s third collaboration with Phoenix, as they had worked together on “The Yards,” and “We Own The Night,” where Phoenix has consistently displayed his acting chops. The film is depressing as is Joaquin, in the title role. Vinessa Shaw, who is well known in the indi film genre, is subtle but strong in the character of Sandra who wants to be there and be Leonard’s “savior.” Enter Academy award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, as Michelle a girl who loves her fun, but uses it to mask the pain of a going nowhere relationship with a married man, some drug use and lots of partying.
The tangled web they weave begins to get even more tangled, and Leonard is so desperately sad that his pain is palpable, and you want to scream at him and snap him out of his distress, he seems to be going nowhere fast emotionally, personally, or any other way…
The film is sad and a bit dark, the characters are played flawlessly by all involved, with Oscar Award nominee Phoenix and Oscar winner Paltrow not disappointing in there acting abilities as is Shaw playing the sweet girl who wants to change Leonard’s life just by loving him.
There is a sex scene between Paltrow and Phoenix standing in an alley that shows the desperation between both characters, who obviously are missing something they’re looking for in this kind of relationship leading them to think they’re in love, but, soon after, reality sets in, and, as Leonard is also having sexual relations with Sandra (Shaw), he seems to be looking for some kind of happiness he’ll never find.
The movie is well filmed and well directed. The characters are deep and intense, and I felt drawn in by their circumstances, and I wanted to help by offering a Savior who will take them out of that depression they seem to be suffering from. God tells us in Psalm 29:5b, “His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.”
Sandra is the only one who gets it, as she seems to realize that love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Corinthians 13 reads, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”
I would not take young kids, nor teens, to see this film and would not watch it if sexual scenes make you feel uncomfortable. Also, there is mild drug use and suggestive dancing involved. God is very specific about sex outside of marriage and clear on the role of men and women engaging in such actions. Romans 12:1 pleads, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. Also our lives are precious to our Creator and suicide is not in His plan for us, He gave us life.” Jeremiah 1:5 tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you, I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Of course, we’re not all going to be prophets; what that means is that when we were created, God already had a plan for each of us, so suicide is never the answer.
This film, while artistically gifted in all areas of filmmaking, sends a message that we are to look everywhere but to God for the answers to life.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.