Third Person (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 137 minutes, R), which was just released this week on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD, is an ambitious narrative centering on love and betrayal that takes place in Paris, Rome, and New York. Directed and penned by Paul Haggis (Crash, In the Valley of Elah), the project took Haggis over two and a half years to finish.
Some moviegoers were perplexed and frustrated by the film’s ambiguity and puzzle laden storyline, but if you’re inspired by non-linear, perspective shifting tales (Third Person is partially inspired by such films as Blow-Up and The Passenger), then Third Person is worth your attention.
The three storylines from Third Person are as follows:
Paris: Liam Neeson is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer who’s suffering a creative crises. Selfish and self-indulgent to the core, he spends his day with a younger colleague (Olivia Wilde) who’s trying to get her own career off the ground. Though both of them are madly in love with each other, continued manipulations and deceit drive a wedge to their union.
Rome: Adrien Brody is a businessman who becomes instantly infatuated with a gypsy (Moran Atias) while drinking at a bar. Upon learning the woman’s daughter was kidnapped, he gets embroiled in an operation that places his life in danger.
New York: A former soap opera actress turned maid (Mila Kunis) is in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband/artist (James Franco). Even with a competent lawyer by her side (Maria Bello), her continued irresponsibility leads to dire consequences.
Eventually, all of these stories intersect in a huge twist that can, depending on the viewer, be deemed infuriating or creatively invigorating.
Special features on this disc include:
The Making of Third Person (9:50)- The featurette on the making of the flick, contains the opening Paul Haggis comment: “I always hope the same thing when I’m making a film, which is just to write an interesting story and then tell it well.” Liam Neeson, Adrian Brody, Moran Atias, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Maria Bello, and producer Michael Nozik are among the cast and crew interviewed on the segment.
Filmmaker Commentary – Paul Haggis, Moran Atias, producer Michael Nozik, production designer Laurence Bennett, and editor Jo Francis are on the commentary track. If you’ve already the seen the movie and are a bit confused with the story’s final chapter, this commentary breaks everything down and leaves no questions left unanswered.
Q&A With Paul Haggis (33:29) – A KCET Cinema Series Q&A moderated by Pete Hammond, this special feature is a must watch if you’re curious about Paul Haggis’ writing process. Haggis is very lively and frank during the chat, and Hammond was more than up to the task as the interviewer.
In the media clip below, Mila Kunis explains why she loved exploring her character in Third Person:
Some actors will show up on set with their lines memorized and ready to hit their mark. It’s a “keep it simple stupid” method that, if it works, shouldn’t be criticized. For Moran Atias, playing a desperate gypsy in director Paul Haggis‘ complex (and compelling) drama Third Person required a different approach. Saying the lines is one thing, but living the part is another.
Haggis told the actress to cut down her shaving regime for the production’s duration, but she did more than let her hair grow for Third Person. “Moran moved into a place where there was no electricity, no water, and she didn’t bathe,” said Haggis during the film’s press conference in Los Angeles. “So we didn’t hang out…”
Moran then playfully interjected, “OK, enough with the details.”
The devil, especially when acting is concerned, is in the details. One of Third Person’s main storylines centers on the relationship between Monika (Atias), a gypsy whose daughter is abducted, and Scott, a morally questionable businessman (Adrien Brody) she meets at a bar. Whether Monika is playing this American for a chump is a puzzle that isn’t solved until the film’s moments, and the mesmeric and tense interplay between Atias and Brody is one of Third Person’s most inspired aspects.
Her decision to travel to Italy and live among gypsies helped build an inner life for Monika. “All these activities just helped me feel confident about why (Monika) wasn’t apologetic on what she has become,” said the actress, who will also be seen in the freshman FX series Tyrant. “If she needs to take a guy on a journey, then she will, because she needs to survive.”
Click on the media bar below to hear Atias talk about the acting prep she did for Third Person:
Third Person, which co-stars Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, and Maria Bello, opens June 20 in New York and Los Angeles.
Written and directed by Paul Haggis (Crash, The Next Three Days), Third Person centers on the lives seemingly disparate people struggling and loving their way through Paris, New York, and Rome. Mila Kunis is Julia, a former soap opera actress who, due to her own irresponsible actions, has lost visitation rights to her son. Desperate beyond belief, Julia takes a job as a maid to hold a steady job and prove to her ex-husband (Kunis’ Oz The Great and Powerful co-star James Franco) that she’s carving out a steadier path.
Ambitious in narrative scope, Third Person isn’t an easily digested drama of love and inevitable tragedy. Inspired by some of the more ambiguous, character driven work of the 1970s, Third Person contains a complex storyline that should leave audience members talking (and perhaps arguing) soon after the credits roll.
During this week’s Third Person press conference, Mila Kunis talked about her straightforward approach to acting. “This is purely my take on it,” said the actress, who will also be seen next year in the sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending with Channing Tatum. “I will live it for those 20 minutes when I’m on set to live it, but it’s called acting for a reason. This is just me…I feel like if I did a good job (and) I’m emotionally drained by the end of the day, I don’t want to keep living it. I want a glass of wine and I want to go to bed.”
Click on the media bar below to hear Mila Kunis talk about her acting method, especially in relation to her work in Third Person:
Co-starring Adrien Brody, Maria Bello, and Liam Neeson, Third Person opens in New York and Los Angeles June 20.