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"Third Person" Movie Review

"Third Person" Movie Review

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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"Third Person" involves three sets of couples. In New York, Julia (Mila Kunis) is fighting for her rights as a parent after being accused of trying to kill her young son.  Her lawyer (Maria Bello) is fighting a losing battle as Julia does everything wrong in her efforts to win back custody from her ex-husband, Rick (James Franco). Julia can't hold a job for long, is perpetually late, and is mired in a depression that she can't escape. In Paris, Michael (Liam Neeson) has left his wife and is ready to spend the week with his mistress, Anna(Olivia Wilde). Michael is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose better work is in his past.  In Rome, Scott (Adrien Brody) is an American businessman who meets Giorgio (Michele Melega) in a bar. Giorgio barely acknowledges Scott at first, but eventually he wears her down, and they strike up a conversation. Scott finds out that Giorgio is in town to meet with a man who is holding her 8-year-old child for ransom. Scott decides to help Giorgio in her quest to get her son back.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

And so starts the latest Paul Haggis film, the writer /director who gave us "Crash" (1994). It's a film filled with characters that all seem to have pasts that they are trying to escape. Julia, the accused mother, seems at first to be a sympathetic character, as we want to believe that the charges against her are unfounded. Michael seems to play the tortured artist to its full hilt. You could start a superb drinking game based on how many times he says, "I'm sorry" to his wife and his mistress. Anna is no bundle of joy herself, seemingly all about playing games with Michael that eventually lead to sex and hurt feelings. Scott, who against his better judgment, can't stay away from trying to be the knight in shining armor for Giorgio, only to create more problems for her. Even Julia's lawyer seems to have something hidden in her psyche as she can barely keep her contempt for Julia under control.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Haggis' screenplay jumps back and forth between the three stories so much it makes the film seem incomplete as we spend a great deal of time with certain characters at the expense of others. There is so much jumping around between the stories that at one point Julia in New York somehow interacts with another character in a hotel room that is in Paris.

While the film has a great cast, I don't think there are any performances in this film that standout. Liam Neeson never displays any emotion other than self-pity. Olivia Wilde, in the thankless role of the mistress without a heart, isn't asked to do too much other than pout and act a little crazy.  Of the rest of the ensemble, Mila Kunis is the only cast member whose role seems to be a challenge as a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There is a fragility to Kunis that comes to the surface, especially near the end of the film when she is just beaten down by the system and the actions of her ex-husband.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

This is a film that is full of unhappy people, some temporarily finding happiness in one another, only to be broken by one or both partners.  It's a film where its characters lie to not only their lovers but to themselves. Not until the end of the film do you realize that all these characters in the film have a common thread; unfortunately by that point, you don't care. You just want to get away from all these unhappy, miserable people and their repressed, hidden problems.  My Rating: Cable

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

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"Third Person" is currently playing in Atlanta area theatres.

"Third Person" Website


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