So now that that is out of the way, let me just say this, because I need to be completely honest in this review. Third Person is a bad movie. It’s not only simply bad, it’s atrocious.
Third Person, by Paul Haggis, concerns three different stories in three different cities. First, in a Paris hotel, Liam Neeson plays a Pulitzer Prize winning author, who is having a love affair with a (much younger) fellow writer played by Olivia Wilde. Meanwhile, in Rome, Adrien Broody plays a corporate spy, who gets sucked into a web of crime and lies because of a chance encounter with a beautiful woman (played by Moran Atias). Finally, in New York, Mila Kunis and James Franco portray a divorced couple fighting over custody rights to their son.
So what do these three stories have in common, you ask? Well, when it comes down to it, basically absolutely nothing. You see, this film has one major and unforgivable flaw: it makes absolutely no sense.
At this point, stop reading if you have any desire to see this horrid movie, because I’m going to spoil the whole thing for you. The so-called “twist” at the end of the picture is that none of those stories or people actually existed; they were all just characters invented by the “real” Liam Neeson character, who we don’t actually see until the very end of the two plus hour film. For starters, having your the big reveal at the end be that nothing actually happened, that it was all just a dream, is basically a giant “fuck you!’ to your the audience. If none of those people were real, then why did you just spend more than two hours telling us about them?! Supposedly, all of these stories are reflections of Liam Neeson’s character’s life (the real one, mind you, not the one we saw for two hours), and the movie is him this character trying to justify his life in novel form.
But this doesn’t make any sense either! It would be literally impossible for all three of these stories to happen to the same person. Adrien Broody’s character had a kid who drowned in a pool, whom is revealed to actually be the kid that the real Liam Neeson had. So then where does the kid from the Mila Kunis and James Franco story come from? The real one gave no indication of having two kids. It doesn’t make any sense.
Also, one other big “twist” was that Olivia Wilde’s character was having affair with another older man who turned out to be her father! Really Haggis, come on. There was no reason for that other than vulgar shock value. And this was, again, another plot point that appeared to have no relevance to the “real” Liam Neeson character; did he have an affair with a woman who had an incestuous relationship with her father? Did he have an incestuous relationship with his father? Who the fuck knows!- this movie certainly isn’t going to tell us.
There’s one scene in the movie that has the imaginary Liam Neeson character talking to his editor, and after some cajoling he gets the editor to tell him why he won’t publish his latest novel. The response is that his most recent novel is a complete mess, with random people doing random things; it’s a pathetic attempt by Liam Neeson in order to justify the choices he made in his life. Paul Haggis must have a sense of dramatic irony, because that was this entire film in a nutshell - a sad two hours of watching a complete train wreck of a film with random people doing random things with an incomprehensible plot and twists that don’t make any sense that and makes you wish you had those two hours back.
And you know, some of this could be forgiven if this was an indie film. A few months ago, I saw the film Ten at the Boston Underground Film Festival. It was not a good movie, but it was an indie film made on a shoestring budget by people who had never made a movie before. The directors were there at the festival, and they seemed like really nice people, and I felt bad giving them a negative review. While all of that doesn’t make it a good movie, it does make it understandable. Third Person, on the other hand, is made by an Academy Award-winning director. It is filled to the brim with major Hollywood actors. And the movie is still absolutely terrible. I think I’m within my rights to expect more from such a renowned director, so this time I have absolutely no qualms about giving this film the lowest grade I’ve ever given something on this blog.