3 tragic tales converge in absorbing drama | Inquirer Entertainment

3 tragic tales converge in absorbing drama

/ 02:29 AM June 28, 2014

NEESON. Prismatic view of love, relationships and responsibility.

Paul Haggis is a relatively new filmmaker, but his movies have won more than their share of awards. Among his enviable feats are the consecutive Best Picture victories at the Oscars of two of his films, “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004 and “Crash” in 2005. That’s why, when we heard that his latest film, “Third Person,” was about to play in town, we hastened to track it down before it vanished from local screens, as nonblockbuster productions are only too readily wont to do.

Well, we finally caught the film, and found it an unusually absorbing movie about seemingly unrelated people whose lives occasionally and tellingly bisect in three different locales—Rome, Paris and New York.


We are first introduced to a famous writer played by Liam Neeson, whose marriage has fallen apart and is also experiencing the “depletion through repetition” of his creative gift. In addition, his new love (Olivia Wilde) has a sordid secret that threatens to destroy their union!


For his part, James Franco portrays a young father who has accused his wife (Mila Kunis) of trying to kill their son—a charge which she vigorously denies.

Finally, Adrien Brody plays an American on a business trip to Italy who gets involved with a “dangerous” woman (Moran Atias) who is trying to free her daughter from a gangster’s clutches.

What do these seemingly unrelated stories have in common? First, they all involve child characters in danger or at risk. The movie focuses on its adult players, but the children’s tragedies or difficulties are at the core of the storytelling’s thematic focus.

And, what could that unifying focus be? The film as an integrated whole is a “psychological reminder” to parents of their exceedingly difficult and sometimes overlooked responsibilities as protectors of their vulnerable and defenseless children.

For instance, Brody’s child dies from drowning when his attention is distracted for only 30 seconds—which is why he does everything to save a stranger’s kidnapped kid from a life of prostitution and debasement.

In her own story, Kunis’ character loves her son, but she’s psychologically unhinged, so she attempts to harm him, causing the breakup of her union with Franco. As for Neeson’s “organizing” third of the story, another child is involved in a drowning incident—so, what’s going on? Why the repetition?


One interpretation could be that Neeson’s tragic experience is real, but Brody and Franco’s stories are not. In fact, they are Neeson’s character’s desperate way to try to comprehend and surmount the tragedy that has befallen him and his wife.

For this reason, as those two “alternative” stories end, their final images vanish or “fade to white” on the movie screen, as a sign of their already having served their purpose as confrontational and healing tools to make Neeson forgive himself—and to relinquish and rediscover the wellsprings of his literary creativity!

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TAGS: Hollywood, Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis

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