“Third Person” a Career High for Paul Haggis and Cast
By Skip Sheffield
Paul Haggis is one creative fellow. The Canadian-born writer-director (“Crash”) has topped himself with “The Third Person,” which is an allegory about the creative process.
Liam Neeson is Michael, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who has holed himself in a Paris hotel, trying to finish his latest book.
What we learn in the course of Michael’s creative struggles is that he only feels through the characters he creates, and resolves his conflicts through them.
Michael is a mightily troubled man. He has separated from his wife Elaine (Kim Basinger, looking as beautiful as ever), and he has taken up with a beautiful, ambitious young journalist, Anna (Olivia Wilde).
The affair between Michael and Anna is in a word, tempestuous. Anna is more troubled than her self-confident façade appears to be. Later we will learn the shocking reason why.
One of the characters Michael creates is Scott (Adrien Brody in his best performance since “The Pianist”). Scott is an American who steals Italian fashion designs and has them reproduced cheaply in China. It is no small irony that Scott despises Italy and its people.
It is in an Italian bar that Scott encounters Monika (Moran Atias), a beautiful Gypsy woman with a big problem. She has paid 5,000 Euros up front to have her 10-year-old daughter smuggled out of Romania. Now the smuggler is demanding another 5,000 Euros to release the child.
Scott doesn’t know if it is a scam or not, but he falls so heavily for Monika he is willing to do anything to help her out.
Back in New York City, another character, Julia (Mila Kunis) is also struggling. Julia has the greatest challenges of all. She was a soap opera actress who gave up her career when she became pregnant. Her husband Rick (James Franco) is a big-deal artist whose career is booming. Their son was permanently damaged by an accident that Rick blames on Julia. The couple has split up and Rick won custody of their child because by all appearances Julia is irresponsible and has no visible means of support.
Mila Kunis is a lovely, sexy girl, and she sure can act, as she proves ably as Julia. I think this is her finest work ever. If you are a parent or maybe even if you aren’t, Julia will tear at your heart.
In fact there is a string of career-high performances in this film, starting with Liam Neeson, who may have been channeling his own anguish over the accidental 2009 death of his wife to create his deeply-troubled, guilt-ridden character.
Perhaps I am partial to “Third Person” because I have attempted to create believable fiction, and I know how hard it is. I feel this film is a career-high achievement for Paul Haggis and his cast.
“Earth To Echo” Kid’s Stuff
“Earth to Echo” is strictly kid’s stuff, aimed at children too young to know the far superior “E.T.” This is a debut effort by writer Henry Gayden and director Dave Green and it stars three fresh-faced youngsters: Teo Helm, Astro and Reese Hartwig as three friends whose homes are threatened by the construction of a freeway. After received a series of mysterious encrypted messages, they learn they are from a tiny robot-like alien with big buggy eyes who like E.T., wants to go home.
That’s pretty much it, except for some cool special effects when the alien reconstructs a space ship. Parents, give the kids some money for admission, and enjoy a more adult movie yourselves.