[With Tom Tykwer's first German-language film in a decade releasing limited today in the U.S. we now revisit Dustin Chang's review from this spring.]
I can't find any news article that says Tom Tykwer, the German director
known for his celestial, kinetic action films, had a breakdown or went
through traumatic events in his life. But I'm assuming he had to have
been, because his new film, Three
is extremely chatty, dense and very grown-up, unlike anything he has done prior.
His first German film since Princess and the Warrior
concerns a middle aged, modern Berlin Couple, Hanna (Sophie Rois) and
Simon (Sebastian Schipper) falling in love with the same man, Adam
(Devid Striesow). Riddled with post-modern themes, the film is in part,
reminiscent of Don DeLillo's book, White Noise
- it starts
with Hanna and Simon obsessing over death. Their media soaked,
technology savvy, slightly ironical professions reflect this as well
(Hanna, a TV talk show host on philosophy, Simon, an art engineer who
fabricates large installations for artists).
superfluous their jobs might sound, Tykwer's treatment of these
characters is nothing but patronizing. And the characters are fully
realized by Rois and Schipper. Self absorbed and childless, they are an
emblem of modern, attractive, thirty/forty-something professional
couples. Rois especially shines in the role of petite, wide eyed, klutzy
Hanna, who expresses herself physically as well as verbally in many of
the film's comic situations.
Hanna and Simon's midlife
anxieties (health scares, death of family members, stagnant sex life)
come tumbling down when they encounter, on separate occasions, an
attractive biologist Adam, who works at a stem cell research lab. Drawn
to this wise, cherubic man, Hanna and Simon start having affairs with
him unbeknownst to each other. From then on, the film becomes an old
Hollywood style, even Shakespearian, comedy of errors with a revelatory
Adam is obviously a metaphoric figure for cure, a new way
of looking at things in this overwhelming, complex world where
inevitable advancement in technology is rewriting the way we live, think
is a handsome looking film that
features effective split screen, rhythmic editing and playfully pays
homage to the early years of cinema with b&w sequences. It showcases
Tykwer's regular DP Frank Griebe and editor Mathilde Bonnefoy's
excellent skills to convey the hectic, technologically imbued world.
by Tykwer himself, the film is an ambitious and highly personal piece.
Does it work though? As the film approaches death, birth and sexuality
in a very earnest fashion, it comes across as quite corny. It's much ado
about nothing that is quite enjoyable. Mostly because of its likable
actors. As I hear his new project being a big budget fantasy - Cloud Atlas
with the Wachowskis - I'd like to think he snapped out of his midlife crisis quite unscathed.
Dustin Chang is a freelance writer. His musings and opinions are available at www. dustinchang.com
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