Review: THIRD PERSON (2014) Oscar winning writer-director Paul Haggis took 2 1/2 years to write this romantic drama filled with great performances

June 29, 2014


THIRD PERSON (2014) Liam Neeson, Maria Bello Mila Kunis , Kim Basinger, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Loan Chabanol, Oliver Crouch, Moran Atias. Directed by Paul Haggis

Love is a complicated thing, so writer-director Paul Haggis took 2 1/2 years to work on the script for his new film Third Person which follows the same multi-layered formula of his Oscar winning film Crash (2004). There are three stories about love and loss intertwined in the narrative that in most cases don't become evident until the film's final chapter.

Liam Neeson, who hasn't been in a film about romance since 2003's Love Actually, plays Pulitzer Prize winning fiction author Michael. He's living out of a hotel suite in Paris working on his latest novel while having an affair with Anna (Olivia Wilde), a young journalist who wants to become a fiction writer, while wife Elaine (Kim Basinger) is back home fully aware of her husband's infidelity.

In New York, former actress Julia (Mila Kunis), now working as a maid in an upscale hotel, is involved in custody battle over her 6 year old son with her ex Rick (James Franco) a famous artist. Her lawyer Theresa played by Maria Bello is basically working pro bono as she tries to reestablish visiting rights for Julia, and Loan Chabanol stars as Rick's live in girlfriend Sam, who sympathizes with Julia's situation.

The third story revolves around American business man Sam (Adrien Brody), who makes a living by stealing fashion designs. While in Rome he meets Monika (Moran Atias), a beautiful Roma woman who is trying to get her daughter from smugglers. When she falls shy of the ransom amount, Sam feels compelled to help but starts to wonder whether or not he's being played as part of an elaborate con.

Third Person features a great cast with standout performances by Mila Kunis and Olivia Wilde. There will no doubt be comparisons to Haggis' award winning film "Crash" but this film should be judged on it's own merit. The stories are interlocked like Crash but Third Person is more of a mystery with clues through out the film to help decipher the puzzle.

In a conversation I had with writer-director Paul Haggis , he said his goal was to make a film that will engage a conversation between friends or couples about the film's outcome where you may not necessarily know everything about what just took place on the screen, in fact I had a conversation with my wife the next day and she picked up on a couple of things that I didn't during my initial viewing of the movie. On a final note, the wonderful score by Dario Marianelli, the Italian composer who scored Atonement, Jane Eyre, and Pride & Prejudice, permeates the film setting the tone for this mysterious romantic drama.

(3 1/2 stars)

*Third Person opens Wednesday July 2nd at Sundance Cinema (Houston), Friday July 4th at Violet Crown Cinema and Arbor Cinemas @ Great Hills in Austin, and Friday July 11th at Bijou Cinema Bistro in San Antonio.