Friday, September 23, 2011


3 is a twee and ridiculous menage-a-trois dramedy from Berlin, a nicely lived-in story about a long term, never married couple whose relationship is turned upside down when they both fall for the same guy.  The film was directed by Tom Tykwer, who twelve years ago was thought to be the new German wunderkind of cinema with his breathtaking international breakout Run Lola Run.  Since then, he's stumbled, first slightly with a ponderous but inventive fable starring Lola's Franka Potente with The Princess and the Warrior (2001), then more so in trying to bring his Euro-art house sensibilities to more Hollywood-ready genre fare like the Cate Blanchett-terrorism vehicle Heaven (2002) and the Clive Owen-action vehicle The International (2008.)  One thing is for certain, and that is that Tykwer is a gifted visual stylist and not afraid of experimental flourishes; the best complement that can be served to 3 is that with a premise that almost feels tacky and bad sitcom bound, or at the very least crappy made-for-television movie bad, is that is looks interesting, and there's a constant flow and energy that keeps the audience off guard for large parts of the film, just waiting for the real impact to hit.  It never quite does, mostly because the story is altogether silly, a bit over the top, and utter nonsense, and far large sections, a complete snooze.  But he moves his camera with such emotional pull, and employs split screens, and fantasies and artsy flourishes that make one hopeful that the film will pull through and not be as flimsy as it really is.  The lovers are Hanna (Sophie Rois; flustered and abrasively interesting) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper), a 40-something couple who've been together forever and are happy and settled and strange in such an unrelatably Euro-trashy way.  Through coincidence and whatever-ness that's neither quite explained nor really explored, both find themselves drawn to Adam (Devid Striesow), and both start to form a hot and sexual relationship with this man.  There's a lovely shot at the end (and this isn't a spoiler, since it's on the poster!) where the three are cuddled together in bed; this shot may be the reasoning for the film.  For 3 is neither particularly sexy nor smart, it's just a muddled mess of pretty images and pretty people.  C

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