Two-time Oscar winner Paul Haggis – you may remember his winning films CRASH & MILLION DOLLAR BABY – has penned and directed another suspense filled drama – intertwining love and loss like only he can – with his latest film – THIRD PERSON.

As the story unfolds, we find ourselves in Italy, as Scott (Adrien Brody), the American, is apparently there to steal his latest fashion designs to take home to manufacture.  Needing a break from his undercover operations, he makes his way into an American café’ to enjoy a taste of home, where he meets the beautiful Monika (Moran Atias).  Monika is waiting to be reunited with her daughter, after months of saving to buy to her back from the man who has kidnapped her.  Scott feels compelled to reach out and help in any way he can, as he too, has a young daughter.  When Monika’s money is stolen, Scott’s involvement with Monika becomes even deeper, as he shifts his focus from fashion to passion for Monika and the daughter she is trying to save…….

Flash back to the US, as we now find ourselves in New York City, where we meet a very distraught young soap opera actress named Julia (Mila Kunis). Julia is desperate to regain visiting privileges with her son, who has been taken away due to her lack of parenting skills.  Her lawyer Theresa (Maria Bello) is focusing every ounce of energy she has to making Julia’s nightmare go away, as she struggles with her own life filled with crisis and pain.  Theresa tries to convince Julia’s ex-husband Rick (James Franco) to reconsider the events that may or may not have happened with their son, as Rick tries to make sure that Julia will never see her son again, especially now, since she missed her meeting with the judge, due to her new job at a local hotel, which she had to secure to help pay for her mounting legal bills……

Flash to Paris, as we meet the Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael (Liam Neeson), who is in the midst of finishing his next fictional masterpiece, and who has left his wife Elaine (Kim Bassinger), to ramp up his ongoing affair with the much younger woman in his life, Anna (Olivia Wilde), who also writes fiction and who is desperate to secure Michael’s approval on her work.  As Michael tries to gain some semblance of his love life – and apparent fledgling career – he is compelled to turn the tumultuous affair he is having with Anna into a real “love story”, yet he is also compelled to answer his wife’s phone calls at the drop of a hat…….what’s up with that?

Will Scott help Monika find her daughter, and waste every dime he has in the process?  Will Julia be able to get her life back on track, hence giving her the opportunity to reunite with her son?  And will Michael be able to redirect his journalistic career, without making his love life even more complicated, or will everything that means anything to him vanish before his eyes…….

I give THIRD PERSON a B-:  Reminiscent of the intertwining lives of his characters in CRASH, Haggis brings to life the “human element” in all of the relationships intertwined in time and space in THIRD PERSON.  As a viewer, you find yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the frailty of these relationships, and how each character struggles with what is happening in their own lives – by trying to redirect their efforts on helping someone else.  Anticipating Haggis’s style from his previous films made me look for similarities throughout, maybe giving me a sense to soon that all may not be as it appears on screen.  Everyone was perfectly cast in their roles this time around, as each actor brings incredible depth and conviction to their characters – so much so that Wilde even bares-all to show you how committed she is to her role.  If you love movies that bring unconventional storytelling to life, and that force you to truly think beyond what is happening on screen, then THIRD PERSON is definitely a must see for you!  And if you love Neeson, Brody, Wilde, Kunis, Franco, Bella or Bassinger, you may want to check out this film too, as they each totally nail their respective roles, making for very enjoyable viewing too!

Kathy Kaiser


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