Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Third Person Was Sort Of Kind Of Okay

I was iffy walking into the latest Paul Haggis film, Third Person. To be honest, I've never been a huge fan. I enjoyed the work he was doing on the Daniel Craig James Bond films, but that's really the only positive I've ever pulled from his career. Crash is legitimately one of the biggest jokes of the last fifty years and I will never get over the statement (or lack of one) the Academy made when they gave it best picture. But let's talk about this new movie. Third Person had a pretty bad title, but the cast still intrigued me, so I had to give it a chance.
The basic concept is, Liam Neeson's a writer at a point in his career where he's pretty much lost all of the joy in his life. He's practically a robot just droning on. So he sets out to write a bunch of weird stories that loosely come from his own recent experiences. And those stories are what we're forced to watch...
It's odd because I actually got into the "drama" for a little bit, there was something intriguing about trying to understand all of these different characters, but the extensive run time kept pulling me out (a hazard of these "ensemble" concepts). Somehow Third Person managed to go over the two hour mark. Why? There were so many unnecessary scenes. And, in fact, entirely unnecessary plots.
Adrien Brody's story (though the only "positive" one) probably could have been left out completely. But then I guess they had to keep it in to give us an example of just how petty a writer Liam Neeson had become. When I think about the overall concept... something that Liam Neeson states in the first fifteen minutes or so... I just don't understand why someone thought this was a movie. It certainly would never have made a book as the film tries to make us believe it would.
The performances, however, were pretty great. Liam Neeson carried this cold neediness that felt just perfect. Mila Kunis dropped a bomb with a similarly needy, rather crazed, overemotional character...
something I hadn't seen from her before. I appreciated the work she clearly put in. Likewise, Olivia Wilde nailed her own schizophrenic character. And I did think Adrien Brody was pretty good despite having the weakest... and awkwardly, most fleshed out story.
If you want to see a bunch of solid character performances, that's probably a good enough excuse to go see a weird, insecure, and rather petty movie like Third Person. Paul Haggis certainly doesn't get it right, but I think he got really lucky with such an entertaining cast. At least you won't be bored the whole time...

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