Three (2010) dir. Tom Tykwer
Starring: Devid Striesow, Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schipper, Senta Dorothea Kirschner, Karl Alexander Seidel
By Alan Bacchus
Tom Tykwer returns with a wholly German film, a distinct change of pace. Equal parts comedy, romance and drama but not a romantic comedy, about three people who form a sexual threesome as complicated as it gets in cinema, or in life.
Hanna (Rois) is with Simon (Schipper), a long relationship, yet they remain unmarried and certainly without the sexual spark of old. Hanna meets Adam at a conference on stem cell research, one thing leads to another and well you know. Then Simon meets Adam, by chance, shortly after he has surgery for testicular cancer. In one of the most audacious love scenes of late Tykwer shows Adam court Simon in the change room of the fitness club using Simon’s surgery scar as the first move/icebreaker, then ends the scene with the yuckiest money shot since Crash.
A farsical and supremely entertaining series of deceptions betwen Simon, Hanna and Adam ensue - like a German comedy of errors, which is probably an oxymoron.
I can’t believe this story hasn’t been done before, particularly as a Hollywood romcom. Under Tykwer’s direction he’s constantly battling between taking his characters seriously and exploiting the ridiculousness of the absurd concept. As such the potential of the concept is never quite reached. Other than the coincidental meeting between Adam and Simon, it’s a tight screenplay. Each of the characters act and react as we’d expect considering how complex their knotting situation is.
As usual it’s sharp looking and beautiful images on screen. Tykwer's compositions, camera movement, lighting are pristine and gorgeous. He doesn’t fully abandon the visual or narrative flourishes. There’s extensive split screen usage in a few montage scenes, sequences I could have lived without, but not enough to distract from the core emotions.
The finale is typical of Tykwer and doesn’t disappoint. Tykwer evens the scales on each of his characters, each has equal narrative weight, each one is wrong, each is right. No one’s really to blame for their own action. A perfect circle of accountability. There’s a philosophical completeness to this threesome as well, like three pieces of a puzzle which is incomplete unless all three are together. And in the final glorious scene, Tykwer hits home this metaphor with pure cinematic delight, like only he can.
And as far the rating goes - three stars. could it have been anything else??