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Thursday
May012014

TRIBECA FILM FEST 2014: THIRD PERSON

BY LIZ WHITTEMORE

 

They say, “Write what you know.” As a writer, I always pull from my own experiences first. Then the imagination takes over. Academy Award winning Writer/ Director, Paul Haggis (Crash), lets us into the mind of a fictional, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist in Third Person. Michael (Liam Neeson) has essentially locked himself in a hotel suite in Paris. He is desperate to finish his new book but emotionally is held back by a past (and present) that is haunting him. Enter his young mistress, Anna (Olivia Wilde), to stir up a little fun and whole lot of trouble. They play a cat and mouse game that seemingly suits one another’s age and stage. Then we jump to Rome, where we find corporate conman Sean (Adrian Brody) confronted with a gypsy woman, Monika (Moran Atias), pulling him into what may be a long con of her own. Finally, in New York, we meet Julia (Mila Kunis), a former soap star whose ex-husband, Rick (James Franco), is trying to keep her from having any visitation rights after their son is almost killed in her care. Maria Bello plays Kunis’ lawyer, Theresa.

 

Each story is intertwined in some way and, much like Crash, as the film progresses, there are hints as to what that might be. A running theme we feel with each character is the connection they have with a child. “Watch Me” can be heard in a child’s whisper several times. The multiple narrative style will keep the audience on their toes for the full 137 minute run of the film. Clever editing adds to the drama at every turn.

 

Neeson is an authentic force. His quiet moments are some of the most intriguing and his connection to Wilde is charming. Wilde, herself, is breathtaking in the balance of hard and soft. Her vulnerability on screen is a joy to watch. Brody’s struggle to do the right thing is something very apparent and there is a moment in the film when he loses a voicemail that will destroy you. Franco plays a real asshole, for lack of a better word. His loathing for Kunis’ character knows no bounds even if it appears his wanting for their son is purely a spiteful and vengeful act. Kunis could not be better. She is truly heartbreaking on screen and incredibly relatable. The climactic scene between her and Franco will both horrify you and make you applaud for the the trust that these two actors must have in real life in order to deliver such a performance. Cheers to them both.

 

Third Person is a really touching and complex script. Regret, loss, and love all reign supreme in this story. Haggis has outdone himself, once again, tackling some of the most important things that haunt us all on a daily basis.

 

VERDICT: MUST SEE

 

Written/Directed by: Paul Haggis Starring: Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Adrian Brody, Mila Kunis, James Franco, Maria Bello, Kim Bassinger, Moran Atias Runtime: 137mins


BOTTOM LINE: Go for the acting. Go for the writing. Go for the ending. Just go see Third Person. Tell them, “She sent me.”

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