Third Person review – Liam Neeson tries to write a masterpiece

Liam Neeson

White. The colour of trust.”

So writes Liam Neeson’s Michael, the screen’s least convincing “Pulitzer prize-winning author” in Paul Crash Haggis’s multi-stranded slice of phoney-baloney, manipulative claptrap. Michael is holed up in a Paris hotel room with some hard drink and a word processor, neither of which he handles with any conviction. He’s attempting to write a masterpiece, but is interrupted by scenes from a “hot affair”, which involves zanily locking his girlfriend out of the hotel room in the buff. Oh, those crazy writers!

Meanwhile, over in Rome, fashion-design thief Scott (Adrien Brody) gets involved with a glamorous waif who is trying to buy her daughter back from traffickers; and in America, failed soap-actress-turned-hotel-chambermaid Julia (Mila Kunis) battles for custody of the son she may or may not have locked in a laundry bag. Really.

That the secondary stories should be so soapy is only partly justified by a late-in-the-day Pirandellian twist of groan-inducing proportions. There’s no excuse, however, for Haggis’s own overripe writing which throws around broken marriages and endangered/neglected/dead kids like outtakes from “Our Tune”.

Dario Marianelli’s score attempts to batter the audience into teary submission with sickly strings, rustic bandoneons, and windmilling piano arpeggios. No wonder Michael’s editor isn’t keen to publish his godawful book; if only Haggis’s producers had been as rigorous. Third Person? Fourth rate!

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Mark Kermode, Observer film critic, for The Observer on Sunday 16th November 2014 00.03 Europe/London

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