Why Paul Haggis Wants 'Third Person' To Irritate People With Its "Russian Doll" Structure

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Third Person has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, challenging audiences with its interwoven storyline and unanswered questions. Paul Haggis directed the romantic drama which employs a star-studded cast and some glamorous locations.

Paul Haggis
Paul Haggis: The Riddler.

Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody, Maria Bello, Olivia Wilde and Kim Basinger, Third Person incorporates three interlocking love stories in Rome, Paris and New York In Paris, Neeson plays Michael; a writer who leaves his wife and begins and on/off relationship with his lover Anna, played by Olivia Wilde. However Anna is unable to commit to Michael because she has a troubling secret that affects her life.

James Franco
James Franco Plays A Protective Father & Artist.

In New York, Kunis plays Julia who has been charged with but denies attempting to kill her son. Whilst the son stays with his father (Franco) who doesn't want Julia near his child, she tries to win back custody of the boy. In Rome, Sean is played by Adrien Brody; an American businessman who takes a trip to Italy and falls in love with an Italian woman, Monica, played by Moran Atias. Sean ends up helping Monica try to get back her soon who has supposedly been kidnapped by gangsters.

Adrien Brody
Adrien Brody Stars In The Interwoven Third Person.

Described as an "ambitious puzzle movie" by Variety, the film focuses on love, guilt and trust and the cast and audience are taken on an emotional rollercoaster through the separate lives of a group of very different people.

However, many have found Haggis' movie difficult to get their heads round - and not in a good way. The Guardian's Catherine Shoard seems to have despised the film, calling it a "doomy drama" and, caustically, "a work of staggering trash; an ensemble drama with the aesthetic of an in-flight magazine, but less classy writing." Whilst the characterisation is disparaged, the structure of the movie is labelled a "russian dolls design whose big reveals recall Jeremy Kyle rather than Sophocles."

Olivia Wilde Mila Kunis
Olivia Wilde & Mila Kunis Have Separate Lives & Issues In Third Person.

However, Variety describes the film as more of a tapestry, where new shapes and themes are added as we delve deeper, or a game, or a Rorschach test to challenge the viewer rather than nark them as clearly occurred in Shoard's case. In fact, Variety are rather complimentary of Haggis' weaving and twisting, saying it's "a deep dive into a territory filmmakers too often wish to simplify."

Interestingly, Haggis seemingly welcomes the confusion, and it may have even been his intention to create such a rift amidst critics. "When I was making the movie what I said was that, like 'Crash' was praised and vilified, this movie will be praised and damned in the same breath," the director said in an interview before the screening, via the LA Times, where he referred to his polarising, Oscar-winning movie that premiered in 2004 TIFF. "That's my kind of film."

Liam Neeson
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Could there be more of the same coming from Haggis' way then? He said, "I think we should be making more and more movies for an intelligent audience because I think people want intelligent movies," adding that the puzzling aspect is key to the film's force: "I don't think they want scripts that you see all time, that I sometimes write, in which everything is written out bold-faced, underlined.What I wanted to do was a puzzle."


Contactmusic

Tags: Paul Haggis - James Franco - Mila Kunis - Liam Neeson - Olivia Wilde - Adrien Brody

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