Third Person

Writer-director Paul Haggis’ new film is a sort of three-way love story about the three-way-ness of love stories. Which is to say it’s about what goes on between the two it takes to tango when somebody brings a plus one. With that in mind, would you believe Liam Neeson as a brooding novelist, with a Kim Basinger wife, an Olivia Wilde lover, and a clichéd case of writer’s block in a Paris hotel? How about Mila Kunis as a fallen soap star, now working as a hotel maid and mired in kid-visitation battles with a smug James Franco artist ex-husband? Or Adrien Brody as an American fashion-industry con man, getting his tables turned by a plucky Italian gypsy (Moran Atias) and her kidnapped daughter? Would you buy that the trio configuration itself make these stories somehow wiser and more truthful? Take some time to think it over; Haggis solemnly suggests 137 minutes. Meanwhile Third Person will drift wealthily through Rome, Paris, and New York, not quite achieving math-problem profundity but becoming an affirmation of upscale location management. When it’s over, a big reveal will have offered an explanation for the prevailing stench of paternalism, but hardly an acceptable defense thereof. Sometimes love hurts, but look, this hurts Paul Haggis more than it hurts you.