Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) hasn't even been properly introduced when he makes an impulsive and feeble suicide attempt. No, things aren't going well for Leonard, who's still reeling from a devastating breakup, struggling with his mental health, and living with his parents (Moni Moshonov and Isabella Rossellini) in Brighton Beach, N.Y. Just as abruptly, though, the hot-ish daughter (Vinessa Shaw) of his father's would-be partner in dry cleaning takes a shine to Leonard, and he meets a new blond neighbor (Gwyneth Paltrow). Will he settle gratefully into a sensible relationship with the nice Jewish girl with family ties, or will he torture himself over the sweet but troubled shiksa? Given that this is a movie, does that question really need answering? Director James Gray has apparently adopted Joaquin Phoenix as the DeNiro to his would-be Scorsese, making the actor the star of three of his four outer-boroughs-set features, including The Yards and We Own the Night. Here he finally gives Phoenix a part that makes the most of his wounded quality, a protagonist who wins empathy even as he's making dubious decisions. But despite Gray's impeccable mise en scene and good performances all around, the central triangle feels dubious, and the movie ultimately follows.