Writer-director Paul Haggis, creator of the Oscar-winning Crash, has come up with another star-studded, multi-stranded drama, but where his earlier film used the hot topic of race to tie its characters and storylines together, Third Person links its three teasing narratives set in three different cities by shared themes of guilt and grief, trust and desire.
Brooding, ruggedly handsome, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Liam Neeson (could this be Haggis’s absurdly flattering self-portrait?) is hunkered down in a luxury Paris hotel where he wrestles with writer’s block and plays mind games with frisky, much younger lover Olivia Wilde.
Shifty American businessman Adrien Brody, in Rome to rip off Italian high fashion lines, gets drawn into a quest to retrieve beautiful Roma woman Moran Atias’s daughter from people smugglers, a mission which may or may not be an elaborate con.
And in New York down-on-her-luck former soap opera actress Mila Kunis repeatedly shoots herself in the foot during a bitter custody battle for her 6 year-old son with her ex, famous painter James Franco.
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Haggis tips his hand too obviously while delivering his narrative sleights and feints, and he piles on the symbolism rather blatantly, too, but his actors are so compelling that the film’s individual scenes mostly come off, even if the whole adds up to less than the sums of its parts.
Certificate 15. Runtime 137 mins. Director Paul Haggis.
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