Third Person (8/10)
Writer/director Paul Haggis is the master of the convoluted,
multi-situational film that resulted in the 2005 Oscar for Crash.
He’s at it again here where he casts Liam Neeson as a writer of fiction,
estranged from his wife, Kim Basinger, while carrying on with his
girlfriend, Olivia Wilde. Then there’s Adrien Brody, a shady businessman
who gets involved in a sort of kidnapping with sexy Moran Atias.
Finally, Mila Kunis has had her son with James Franco taken away from
her and is desperate to get visitation rights with him, so she hires
Maria Bello as her attorney. Maria just happens to be Brody’s estranged
wife. Convoluted enough?
New York, Paris, and Rome, Haggis jumps back and forth among the three
stories. Haggis and his longtime production designer used Michelangelo
Antonioni’s 1966 avant-garde film, Blow up, as a touchstone in
how to make this film, because both are an exposition of the
relationship of reality to illusion. The finale is exceptionally
thought-provoking, intriguing viewers who have not been lost by the
almost two and a half hour runtime.
the acting, Kunis is head and shoulders among the others, although
that’s not to downplay the cast, all of whom give fine performances.
This film shows Kunis with the capability to shed tears on cue, and
Wilde without it. But Olivia makes up for it when she sheds her clothes
rather than tears, and runs naked through her hotel in Paris (which she
laughingly says she thinks she should do on all her pictures because
“It’s a real ice breaker with the crew in the first week. Once you do
that nothing else is intimidating.”).
aside, although the film is set in New York, Paris, and Rome, it was
shot entirely in Rome. The Paris exteriors were shot on the Via Veneto,
Rome’s most famous tourist street.