If you ever want to watch a dark and gritty film, all you need to do is find one made by James Gray. The director, whose first feature Little Odessa won the Venice Film Festival’s prestigious Silver Lion award in 1994, doesn’t work all too often, but when he crafts a motion picture it’s always layered with psychological struggles, emotional complications and moral dilemmas. His engrossing art has given cinephiles four high-quality stories in The Yards, We Own The Night and Two Lovers, and it seems that he’ll finally tell another as Deadline reports that he’s lining up a cast for his next film Low Lives.
Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner are all supposedly in talks to join the picture, which tells of a Polish immigrant who falls into a life of prostitution when her sister gets sick and can’t afford medication. She’s then taken in by a sleazebag who provides shelter but wants her to keep whoring herself out for his personal gain, until the guy’s cousin – who also happens to be a magician – sweeps her off her feet and promises her a proper, normal life. Cotillard will play the immigrant, while Phoenix will take on the scumbag and Renner the cousin.
This will be Phoenix’s fourth collaboration with Gray following The Yards, We Own The Night and Two Lovers and I hope that it puts the crazed performer back on the right track. After Two Lovers, as we all know, the Oscar-nominated actor went a little nuts, grew a beard, tried to become a rapper and made a faux-documentary chronicling his descent into madness. It was a sad story to watch unfold, because Phoenix is a wonderful talent from a family known for trouble/tragedy and I was afraid that he’d end up on the same path as his ill-fated brother River. He’s now coming back in a big way with this gig and Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled religious picture, so I hope that Low Lives marks the beginning of a glorious second act in Phoenix’s career. Now my only question is, where’s Mark Wahlberg going to fit into this film??