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Paul Haggis
Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Kim Basinger, Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello
Writing Credits:
Paul Haggis

Three interlocking love stories involving three couples in three cities: Rome, Paris, and New York.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$38,856 on 5 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 136 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 9/30/2014

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Paul Haggis, Associate Producer Jo Francis, Producer Michael Nozik, Production Designer Laurence Bennett and Actor Moran Atias
• Q&A with Writer/Director Paul Haggis
• “The Making of Third Person” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Third Person [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 18, 2014)

If I live to be 1000, I’ll continue to feel amazed by movies with “A”-list talent that go straight to video. Today’s example: 2014’s Third Person. Directed by two-time Oscar-winner Paul Haggis and with a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, and James Franco among others, Person earned a token theatrical exhibition. It maxed out at 227 screens and earned less than $900,000 in the US.

Despite the film’s lack of box office impact, I figured all that talent meant I should give Third Person a look. The film depicts three separate, interlocking tales, all set in different cities. In Paris, novelist Michael (Neeson) stashes himself in a hotel suite to finish his latest work. This follows his recent abandonment of his wife Elaine (Kim Basinger) so he could enjoy an affair with much younger Anna (Olivia Wilde).

In Rome, American businessman Scott (Brody) tries to steal fashion designs. When he pops into a bar, he encounters lovely Monika (Moran Atias) and embarks on an unusual relationship. Kidnappers allegedly took Monika’s daughter and Scott finds himself swept up in the drama.

Finally, we go to New York to meet former soap opera actor Julia (Kunis). She fights her ex Rick (Franco) over custody of their young son and she takes a job as a maid in a hotel to cover costs – and to hide from the world. We see the drama that surrounds this battle as well as the reason Rick maintains custody.

Call me cynical, but when I encounter movies that feature multiple storylines without clear connections, I feel somewhat suspicious. I can’t help but wonder if the filmmakers lacked the ability to flesh out the individual narratives into successful full-length efforts so they crammed them all into one effort. It seems like films such as this might stem from a failure to develop plot elements on their own.

On the other hand, the Abbey Road medley compiled a mix of song fragments into a legendary musical piece – and Haggis won Oscars for Crash, another flick with multiple storylines, so maybe I should be more open to the format.

I can’t accuse Haggis of connecting unrelated tales here; it takes a while to figure out how the stories intertwine, but they do. Person definitely seems like a movie that will prompt conversation among viewers who attempt to piece together the overarching narrative. Though posited as three separate stories, the movie includes hints that they share a connection. Haggis makes these choices intriguing but doesn’t beat us over the head with them; unlike his earlier films, Person requires some thought.

But does it reward those who give it such consideration? That becomes a different question, one that I’m not sure I can really answer. On the positive side, Person offers enough cleverness and intrigue to keep the viewer with it. Those odd little clues about the overall narrative manage to pique interest and ensure that the movie remains at least moderately involving at all times.

Unfortunately, however, the intentional vagueness that appears much of the time threatens to have the opposite effect. To avoid spoilers, I can’t discuss the rationale for this vagueness, and I do understand why Haggis makes things so loose at times.

Even with that comprehension, though, the story falters. A movie that revolves around so many characters who get roughly equal screen time needs to ensure that those characters boast clear personalities and memorable traits. That doesn’t occur here, as the roles seem loosely defined and interchangeable a lot of the time. Again, I understand that Haggis did this on purpose, but that “after the fact” realization doesn’t help as the screening unfolds; with so many one-dimensional, forgettable characters, it can be tough to hold out until the movie’s finale.

This means that Person may get more positive attention than it deserves due to the dynamic nature of its ending. Once you see the way the finish ties together all the elements, you may think you watched something with great substance.

However, I don’t believe that to be the case. I get the impression that Haggis thought up the ending and made the rest of the story fit to it. It feels like he ignored any pursuit of rich characters and narrative elements because he figured the dramatic conclusion would save him.

And to a degree, he’s right. Sometimes a good movie with a bad ending gets panned, whereas a bad movie with a good ending receives praise; viewers often tend to focus on how they felt at the finish more than how a film impacted them the rest of the time.

I can be guilty of that as well, which is why I find it tough to adequately evaluate Person. The ending gives meaning to the two hours that precede it in a positive enough way that I almost forget how semi-bored I felt much of that time. In the end, this leaves Person as a memorable movie that still suffers from obvious ups and downs.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Third Person appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. A little softness crept into the image at times, but not frequently. Instead, the movie almost always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette that varied based on setting and tone. It mostly mixed amber and teal throughout its running time. The hues consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows showed good smoothness. Overall, the picture appeared solid.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked pretty well. The audio tended to be somewhat restrained most of the time, but some sequences – such as those at bars or on the street – opened up the spectrum in a satisfying manner. Cars and other elements moved around the room, while other effects added a good sense of ambience.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects lacked much to stand out, but they appeared accurate, and they showed mild punch when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B-“.

As we shift to the set’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Paul Haggis, editor Jo Francis, producer Michael Nozik, production designer Laurence Bennett and actor Moran Atias. All of them sit together for a running, screen-specific piece that examines story/character areas, editing and the film's structure, music, effects, cast and performances, sets and locations, visual motifs and production design, and a mix of other domains.

With all the narrative's complexities, I expected a robust commentary - and I got one for a while. During the movie's first act or so, the chat manages to move well and cover the film in an informative manner. Unfortunately, it loses steam as it goes; we find more dead air and general praise for the project without as many insights. Given how much useful material we could hear, the blandness we often find makes this a lackluster track.

Shot at the “KCET Cinema Series”, a Q&A with Writer/Director Paul Haggis lasts 33 minutes, 29 seconds. During the chat, he discusses story/character issues and the movie’s structure, the project’s origins and development, influences/inspirations, cast and performances, locations, and mix of other elements. Inevitably, some of the info repeats from the commentary, but Haggis gives us a more focused look at the film; if you want to skip the commentary and stay with the Q&A, you won’t miss much.

Finally, The Making of Third Person goes for nine minutes, 49 seconds and includes notes from Haggis, Nozik, Atias, and actors Adrien Brody, Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Maria Bello and James Franco. The show evaluates the story and character domains, cast and performances, and Haggis’s impact of the shoot. The piece lacks depth and exists to promote the film, so don’t expect much from it.

The disc opens with ads for Magic in the Moonlight, Land Ho!, For No Good Reason, Predestination and Only Lovers Left Alive. We also find the trailer for Third Person.

Though erratic, Third Person becomes fairly memorable by its finish. A lot of that stems from an emotional ending, as the prior two acts seem less satisfying. Still, the movie comed with more good than bad. The Blu-ray provides solid picture, decent audio and an inconsistent set of supplements. I can’t call Third Person great, but it usually works.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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