Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody and James Franco star in the new film from Academy Award-winning writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash), which jumps from Paris to Rome to New York as it traces the hidden connections between three very different men.
Paul Haggis is the master of multiple narratives, and his lithe affection for this form of storytelling is on display again in the compelling Third Person, a film that wends its way through three cities and three tales. The various stories, situated in Paris, Rome, and New York, are, at first glance, all separate, but Haggis effortlessly makes connections among them as the film unwinds.
The film concentrates on three men and their romantic entanglements. Michael (Liam Neeson) is a writer whose latest manuscript has been refused, so he flies off to Paris to rethink his life, leaving his wife (Kim Basinger) behind in the States. Sean (Adrien Brody) finds himself wandering the streets of Rome and befriends a Romanian woman in a bar, while Rick (James Franco) lives in a tony New York apartment with his son from a previous marriage and his new girlfriend. Gradually, each one of these stories unveils its secrets, testifying to the whims and complexities of life. Surfaces are deceptive in the Haggis universe, but as each story is explored we discover untold pleasures and pains. Life is never easy: it can be deceptive, inhabited by anger and jealousy, but it can also be surprisingly joyous.
Each city in Haggis's film provides
a physical landscape that reflects the
dilemma of the characters, and the locations
are used in very different ways. The
sensuality of Paris, the warmth of Rome
and the edge of New York all heighten the
atmosphere. Third Person is a film of unexpected
wonders, subtle shifts of mood, and
powerful emotions. Redemption can be
found amidst the chaos, but so can its opposite.
Haggis pulls the strings masterfully
while negotiating between the two.