Third Person Blu-ray Review
One of the finest ensemble casts in a movie you probably haven’t heard of. THIRD PERSON follows three love stories, all very complicated in their own deep, personal way. While the trio can easily be separated and probably dropped into their own short films, THIRD PERSON is an episodic look at love and relationships. Through this interconnected format, the disguised veil that’s finally lifted to reveal the links between our stories should be worth our efforts, but it’s not.
Let’s start off in Paris, where we meet Michael (Neeson). He’s an author who’s typing away at his latest novel in a luxurious hotel. This is probably the most interesting story of the movie since it’s the most character driven piece. Michael is having trouble polishing his work with so much happening in his life. He’s recently left his wife because he’s having an affair with Anna (Olivia Wilde). I guess leaving her is a way to show Anna that she’s more than just an exquisite booty call. As most can tell visually, he’s much older than her and it’s a bit of a mystery as to why she puts up with a man who simply views her as a sexual muse for the first half of their tale.
The second best story takes place in New York and involves Julia (Kunis). She’s a former soap opera star who’s hit the roughest patch possible. Through discussions with her lawyer, we find out that she may not be able see her seven-year-old son anymore because of child abuse allegations. She’s low on cash and having to pick up a job as a cleaning lady at an area hotel. To make matters worse, she’s fighting for custody against her husband, played by James Franco. Franco comes off as cold and uncaring to her predicament and only seems to want custody in order to draw more emotional pain out of her.
While most of these people are unrelatable due to their improbable lives, their emotions are genuine enough to understand. That leads me to the third and most blase story, which surrounds Scott (Brody). Scott is on a business trip in Rome and decides to kill some time in an area bar. There he runs into a woman who he randomly becomes interested in, leading him to an underground world and a search for her kidnapped daughter. It’s unfortunate that Brody is dropped into the most peculiar story selection in the movie since his character motivations feel outlandish, more so than anyone else in the movie.
The performances in this are outstanding, especially Kunis who’s spot on as a burnt-out mom at the ends of her ropes and Neeson who’s taking a break from killing people all over Europe to be a kind hearted man searching for meaning in the woman he adores. I also would have never guessed that Wilde and Neeson’s characters would make such a realistic and entertaining couple, despite the 32 year age difference. No one’s talents go to waste during this movie.
As I stated earlier, there’s one thing that ties everything together and you have to endure the excessive running time to find out, that is if you’re still interested after two hours. Character driven dramas can quickly run out of steam if not crafted with enough natural twists and turns. The ones that do occur are interesting, but ultimately contrived. Maybe the director/writer, Paul Haggis, who also directed and wrote CRASH, didn’t have someone else there to shake their head at his convoluted tie-in. It’s a grand idea that could suit a short indie movie, but by the end, you’re going to feel cheated.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The blu-ray presentation helps set the scene for all three cities. We can see the distinct color tone differences along with a satisfying array of bleak and vibrant backgrounds.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Since dialogue is key, this movie impresses with a crystal clear mix with a light soundtrack. Transitions from powerful to somber moments are stable.
Commentary with Writer/Director Paul Haggis, Production Designer Laurence Bennett, Editor Jo Francis, Producer Michael Nozik and Actor Moran Atias: A must watch if you enjoyed and want to know more about all the ideas inside this movie. Even if I didn’t quite enjoy the outcome, I feel that these five people contributed and conversed enough to make this commentary more entertaining than the movie.
Q&A with Writer/Director Paul Haggis (33:29): This needs a late night talk show treatment. This kind of Q&A, moderated by Pete Hammond, needs to be shrunken down to bullet points and 10 to 15 minutes.
The Making of THIRD PERSON (9:49): This is a slightly amusing look into how the movie was constructed through it’s writing, characters and settings.