Gwyneth Paltrow reminds us why she's more than a fancy clothes hanger in this bleak romance, playing self-absorbed Michelle, who toys with suicidal Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix). Paltrow makes us feel for this pathetic user/loser. But should sad-eyed Leonard go for dangerous Michelle or safe, mothering Sandra? If we buy Phoenix's claim that he has quit acting (big if), this shadow-filled indie (his third with gritty director James Gray) makes us cry, "Don't go!"
This harrowing, fact-based, subtitled drama zeros in on a crime syndicate with a stranglehold on Naples: A businessman dumps toxic waste, a gun-toting 13-year-old is put to work, and a pair of wannabes finds that actual gangsterism is less glam than in the movies. Based on a best-selling Italian exposé, realism doesn't get realer.