Review: Third Person (a film by Paul Haggis)

I had the unique pleasure to attend a small intimate viewing of Paul Haggis’ new film, Third Person, this past Thursday night at the newly renovated Picture House Theater in Pelham NY. A quaint 500 something seat revitalization of a wonderful era past. The perfect place to view this film which works to recreate the thought provoking multi-plot film style of  the 1970’s; Hollywood’s last Golden Age. This is a favorite time of mine when maverick filmmakers like Scorsese, strove to break from the cliche ridden, mind numbing political (and sexual) correctness of the previous eras.

We, the audience, are the titular “Third Person” baring witness to this rich multi-plot narrative (similar to Haggis’ Academy Award winning Crash) which follows three intertwined stories subtly related to each other and which thematically explore the same ground; Infidelity. Infidelity in not just in the pedestrian sexual or marital terms we see in most commercial films but in the deep, gut wrenching, core foundation of all infidelities… The breaking of Human Trust.  The film probes the knife point question: What chance does love have without trust?

The  primary story line follows Michael (Liam Neeson)…

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a formerly well-renown novelist who has moved past his prime; whose writing no longer packs the punch demanded by the pop culture. Self sequestered in a Paris hotel after leaving his wife of many years (Kim Bassinger) he labors over his lap top, sweating out every character on the screen, searching desperately for a new muse. He is soon joined by his co worker (Olivia Wild), many years younger, seemingly on a business mission.

We soon discover that they are having a torrid, quasi secret affair.  But not just any type of affair. Haggis has endeavored to imbue this relationship with enough conflict and controversy to drive an entire episodic mini series let alone one leg of this three legged yarn.  Without dropping any spoilers, as the stories unfold, we find that all this mayhem, that at times borders on the sado-masochistic, is fueled by shockingly broken trusts on both their parts.

The secondary story line revolves around a NY City mother, Julia (Mila Kunis), a beautiful, tragic, “hot mess” of a woman with a heart of gold who try as she might, can not seem to get out our her own way.  We open with her struggling to meet with her lawyer (Maria Bello) to make an appearance with a family arbitrator. It seems Julia has been accused filicide, the most horrible of crimes and her husband (James Franco) is determined to sever all ties to her and their child. Again, the question of trust is tested.

In the third and to me the least “dark”and most fulfilling story, we come across Sean (Adrian Brody) a morally bereft and guilt ridden, garmento who is in Rome for the sole purpose of stealing and knocking off the clothing designs of more brilliant and talented designers.  Waiting for his plane he stops in a local bar for a difficult to find cold drink. There he is drawn to Monica (Moran Atias) a beautiful, mysterious and street smart Gypsy woman who “captures” Sean in her web of danger and adventure. In the end, against all odds and massive evidence to the contrary, Sean must overcome his guilt and doubts to take the ultimate leap of faith; He must chose to give her or deny her his trust.

In the end, Haggis seems to say, that true, deep love can not survive, indeed we as a race can never truly survive, without us first offering up our unconditional trust to the harsh altar of chaos.

MP-6/7/14

 

Third Person   – A film by Paul Haggis, showing now in theaters.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2343793/

 

 

 

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