Third Person Movie Analysis Essay

Liam Neeson plays Michael, a writer. His eyes are curiously and deceptively filled with feeling and warmth even as his character plays out as a "sociopath" who has trouble feeling anything genuine toward other people. Yet, he is obsessed with the creation of emotion, as if the suspension of love in mid-air between two people is his home and friend. His mind is similarly disembodied. He feels need for love, especially when he is deprived of his lover's presence, but the actual presence of that body works to quickly diffuse the passion that is powerful in theory but thrives on it's staying in that theoretical strata. Michael has found a way, through his writing, to cope with this absurd existence. He finds the answer to his addiction in the creation of fiction using people in real life. He lets life naturally play out around him, provoking into being both the subtle and blatant forms of passion, romanticism, divine emotion and drama, then filters these experiences onto paper, choosing only the best parts, and throwing away the rest. Including any irrelevant parts of himself. In this way, he chooses to live his own life in a half-existence, desperately clinging to the divinity of love while denying the bitter absence of his ability to express it genuinely. 'Genuinely' is the key word here. Surely delivering hundreds of white roses to the bedroom of his lover Anna, (played by Olivia Wilde), is beyond romantic. But for Michael it is an act of intellect, not passion. It is a tool used to evoke the necessary catalyst, letting life display action, and funneling the magic into his own words.

Anna is a woman and entity that is completely unique in relation to anyone else in the movie and expresses a shade of mentality that I've never seen in a film so clearly. Within the life spans of each character prior to the timeline of the film is a catastrophic event involving either children or themselves as children. This is a line of storytelling that is evenly and thoroughly paved, on which it is typically easy to carry an audience. Because of such and such event in one's childhood, this character turned out to be this and this. The audience willingly nods to almost any such explanation that follows this logic; the more messed up, the more believable. Anna's case certainly gives her some degree of excusability in this story, though that concept is for another time and another debate. Incredibly, this event, though strong and controversial, does not outshine the vivid expression of her mentality through her actions prior to the unveiling of this childhood/adulthood disaster. She is blunt, cold and incredibly sadistic when it comes to attacking Michael. She is spontaneous, child-like and in considerable anguish. She is excited by the same game that Michael is, and this is what holds them together through the poisonous collisions with the sterility of every-day life. There game is fun, sexy. The fact that in their spontaneous role-play they are acutely aware of the other's true mentality builds a mutual sexual excitement; they can't wait to see how the story will turn out this time, whether it leaves Anna naked in the hallway of a hotel, or hundreds of flowers left in her empty room. The plain of existence could go on exponentially from here in satisfaction for Michael, but for Anna there is a step further down that makes her existence with Michael inhospitable. She is aware and ashamed of her acidic behavior towards Michael, and she has settled into a resolution of consistent punishment for those actions; at least she is trying very hard to. Michael makes this wish impossible in his equally consistent forgiveness for the sake of not losing his muse. As a result, Anna is catapulted into despair as she does not receive the intake of pain and rebuke she expects, resolute that she in no way deserves forgiveness or love; both of which she has long since destroyed within herself. Confronted with a room full of roses, she is helpless to respond in any way other than crawling, slowly and humbly, back to her indestructible lover...

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In ’s film “Third Person,” plays Michael, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who has lost his creative mojo and is holed up in a Paris hotel, completing his latest opus. Accompanying him but staying in a separate suite is his girlfriend, Anna (), a wacko celebrity journalist who has literary pretensions that Michael is quick to shoot down. They go at each other with the merciless cruelty of two egotists whose only harmonious moments are bouts of frantic sex.

Their story is one of three that run parallel, bump elbows and, at the very end, unconvincingly intersect in the manner of the multiple narratives of Mr. Haggis’s Oscar-winning movie. “Third Person” was filmed predominantly on sets at the Cinecittà studios in Rome, with that city effectively standing in for and New York, as the film jumps from place to place.

A second strand focuses on Julia (), a former soap opera star and the hyper-agitated ex-wife of Rick (), a successful painter. An impatient lawyer, Theresa (), is helping Julia fight for legal visitation rights to see her young son, whom Rick claims Julia put in harm’s way. A scatterbrained mess who is short of cash and always on the verge of a meltdown, Julia is forced to take a job as a hotel chambermaid. Rick is a cold, vindictive narcissist whose anger at her stems partly from guilt over his own neglectful parenting.

The third plotline concentrates on Scott (), a weaselly corporate spy in Paris, visiting the city to steal fashions for cheap copies to be rushed into the marketplace. He meets his match in treachery at a place called the Bar Americano, where he puts the moves on Monika (Moran Atias), a beautiful, haughty Roma woman to whom he impulsively gives money after she tells him that her 8-year-old daughter is being held for ransom on a boat. Or at least that’s what she says. Once Scott becomes involved, the ransom price escalates.

The movie, which runs an interminable 137 minutes, is nothing if not ambitious. Mr. Haggis has cited ’s as an inspiration. is so meticulously acted by the ensemble that you are almost seduced into believing that its parts add up to a grand overview of the human condition, especially as it relates to love. But they don’t, because the main characters are shallow, selfish nincompoops, and there is no love in sight — just its absence — as these mutually suspicious go-getters jockey for advantage.

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when that sinking feeling sets in, and you realize that these stories aren’t going anywhere in particular and that no ideas will be voiced beyond pseudo-poetic, wince-inducing statements like “white is the color of trust; it is the color of belief.” The storytelling is infuriatingly coy, as if Mr. Haggis were trying to fool you (and himself) into thinking that he has something to say. “Third Person” finds Mr. Haggis, like Mr. Neeson’s screen alter ego, running on empty.

“Third Person” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for nudity, sexual situations and some strong language.

Third Person

  • DirectorPaul Haggis

  • WriterPaul Haggis

  • StarsLiam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco

  • RatingR

  • Running Time2h 17m

  • GenresDrama, Romance

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    Last updated: Nov 2, 2017
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