Third Person

Written and directed by Paul Haggis
Starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Moran Atias, Maria Bello and Kim Basinger
In UK Cinemas November 14th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

With central character Michael (Neeson) being a writer working on his follow-up to his Pulitzer prize winning novel, it’s easy to see how this plot will unfold and exactly how all of the characters will inevitably intertwine.  Third Person is director Paul Haggis’ latest film, years after some of his better-constructed triumphs including his 2004 Oscar-winning Crash.  While no Oscar seems on the cards for this one, Third Person does deliver some enjoyable moments from a high quality cast, but it fails to be as clever and original as it thinks it is.

Michael is sitting alone in his Parisian hotel room when his mistress Anna (Wilde) pays him a visit.  Meanwhile in New York, Julia (Kunis) is struggling to get her life sorted to gain visitation rights to her son under the watchful eye of her ex-husband Rick (Franco).  In Rome, American Scott (Brody) falls for gypsy woman Monika (Moran Atias).  At the heart of it all is being a bad parent and the lack of forgiveness one puts on themselves for being such.

As the story flows from Paris to Rome to New York and back again, the characters are never quite empathetic enough to care about.  Olivia Wilde is engaging through her beauty and energy, Mila Kunis through her puppy dog eyes and hapless demeanor, but overall the trio of plots are irrelevant in this unnecessarily complicated drama.

The narrative feels like one big gimmick rather than an artful method of storytelling.  One story on which to focus with one set of characters to fully develop would have been a more efficient way for this story to unfold.  Instead, this bloated drama feels contrived and overly meta, and a shallow attempt at capturing a bit of the multi-storied magic that Haggis created in Crash all of those years ago.

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