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Third Person - Review

Third Person

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

PAUL Haggis may once have dazzled with his multi-strand storytelling in the Oscar-winning Crash but his latest attempt to replicate that success is a pretentious wreck of a movie that severely tests the patience.

By turns an insight into the writing process and a musing on love and romance as seen from the perspective of male fantasy, this boasts a star-studded cast and a supposedly ingenious twist but struggles to convince on any level.

Liam Neeson takes the central role of a writer battling to follow-up his career defining work (a metaphor for Haggis’ own Crash and the burden of expectation that followed?) with a heart-rending look at romance, whose Paris getaway is enlivened by an attractive young mistress (Olivia Wilde) who seems to crave humiliation (witness her response to being locked out of his hotel room naked).

Running in tandem with this are the seemingly unrelated tales of a shady corporate thief (Adrien Brody) who comes to the rescue of a Romanian gypsy in Italy and a down-at-heel hotel cleaner (Mila Kunis) struggling to win back joint custody of her child from a protective artist dad (James Franco).

Haggis blurs the ensuing lines of reality, building to a final revelation that’s designed to pull the rug out from under you, but which merely leaves you gobsmacked at how trashy the whole endeavour is.

What’s more, viewers may be astonished at how poorly written the women in the film are – probably deliberately but still unforgivably so. They all conform to male fantasies of damsels-in-distress or objects of affection.

It’s credit to Kunis and Wilde, in particular, that the performances are so good but that only makes the film’s failure to reward them more infuriating. And your ability to buy into anything worthwhile that Haggis has to say on any of his themes is compromised by the patronising nature of his writing as a whole, not to mention the film’s unforgiving two hour plus running time.

Third Person is an excruciating exercise in futility.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 137mins
UK Release Date: November 14, 2014