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After Joaquin Phoenix turned the press tour for writer-director James Gray's haunting romance Two Lovers into his own cultural experiment for the bizarre I'm Still Here, I suspected Gray would never work with the enigmatic actor again. But apparently their bond can overcome even the most peculiar publicity stunts, as the two have re-teamed for Gray's upcoming period piece set in 1920s New York.
In The Lowlife, Phoenix plays a sneering pimp who exploits a Polish immigrant's desperate need for funds to save her sickly sister, turning her into a reluctant burlesque performer. The Dark Knight Rises' Marion Cotillard plays this snagged stripper, while Jeremy Renner plays a charismatic magician she meets on the vaudeville circuit, who inspires her to hope for something more than the cruel life she knows.
The film recently wrapped its New York City shoot, and now The New York Times has revealed an early look at The Lowlife within a profile on Oscar-nominated cinematographer Darius Khondji (Evita). The still, seen below, features Phoenix looking pretty dapper for a pimp and Cotillard looking very conservative for a burlesque performer. But the frame is lovely with its shift in colors and stark foreground, proving a perfect tease for The Lowlife's eventual marketing rollout.
Cotillard has an unearthly beauty and an edgy charm that makes me eager to see her perform old-school burlesque, but I'm most excited to see Renner's intense energy channeled into a magician, and bound for conflict with Phoenix. While all this will have to wait until the film's eventual debut (no release date has yet been slated), I'm going to hope in the meantime that the film's marketing team will use the 1920s setting as an excuse to make The Lowlife's promo poster pop with vaudeville-styled flair.