20 June 2014 | 3xHCCH
Paul Haggis is best known as the director of the movie "Crash", which was the controversial winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 2006 over its closest rival "Brokeback Mountain." Haggis is also the first screenwriter to win Oscars for Writing for two consecutive years, "Million Dollar Baby" in 2005 and "Crash" in 2006. It was the name of Paul Haggis that drew me to check out "Third Person" without knowing anything else about it.
Like "Crash", "Third Person" is also a film with multiple story lines. I have liked movies like this since I have seen "Amores Perros" and "21 Grams." I have admired how the scriptwriter managed to clearly tell three or four stories and then connect them to each other with an overarching bigger story.
Michael (Liam Neeson) is an aging Pulitzer-prize winning author who left his wife Elaine (Kim Basinger) and is now having an affair with a much younger Anna (Olivia Wilde) in Paris. Scott (Adrien Brody) is an unscrupulous clothing businessman who gets entangled with the shady financial problems of a gypsy-like local lady Monika (Moran Atias) in Rome. Julia (Mila Kunis) is a poor divorcée who lost custody of her young son to her estranged husband Rick (James Franco) because of an unfortunate accident with a plastic laundry bag.
It was good to see Liam Neeson again in a straight drama, not in another action vehicle that he is wont to do lately. Olivia Wilde is daring, gorgeous and smart, the perfect femme fatale. Mila Kunis stands out in a very serious dramatic role. Her brutally-emotional confrontation scene with James Franco was amazingly acted out. In terms of romantic chemistry though, the best was between Adrien Brody and Moran Atias. Their story line was interesting on its own, but seemed furthest off from any connection with the other two stories.
The underlying issue and conflict in all three stories was about trust. Anna's bizarre behavior is driving Michael nuts about her loyalty. On the other hand, Michael is using their stormy relationship as the subject of his book seemingly without Anna's consent. Monika's connection with a sleazy extortionist has Scott doubting her innocence. Rick cannot trust Julia anymore with even basic visitation rights to their son.
Even at the two hour mark, the three stories seem to be slowly losing their steam and getting nowhere without any detectable connection to each other. However, just as I was losing hope as to this film's ability to end properly, suddenly comes a most surprising development that actually manages to solidify the three disparate segments of this film into a single coherent whole. Paul Haggis has done it again to weave his magic with this inventive type of story telling via film.