Saturday, February 1, 2014

3 by Tom Tykwer

I finally managed to get around to a movie that has been in my queue for many months, if not over a year.  (Being a Luddite, I‘m not talking about a Netflix queue, incidentally, but an actual pile of DVDs taking up a couple of shelves and two shoeboxes.)  I sat down to watch 3 (AKA Drei), written, directed and scored by German film-maker Tom Tykwer.  Tykwer is best known for Run Lola Run! and 3 has some things in common w/ Lola: experimental shots and editing, surprising sound and music choices, and philosophical subtext occasionally bubbling up into the dialogue.

 First, the quick summery:  3 is about a couple in their early 40’s, living in Berlin.  They’ve been together for many years but only recently get engaged.  Although she loves him, she meets a very charming man and begins an affair.  Although he loves her, he meets a charming man at the gym and is surprised to find himself enjoying his first homosexual experience.  The twist?  They’re both secretly fooling around w/ the same charming man – and he, in turn, has no idea the two people he is dating are engaged to one-another.  The movie teases you for a while before the inevitable cat is let out of the bag (in a surprising way).  The question then becomes: will they all break up… or not?

I already used the word 3 times but I’ll use it again: this movie is very charming.  All 3 protagonists are really likeable, and that’s what makes the film work – I’m guessing – even for those outside of our tiny world of polyamory: you really want these three people to be together and be happy.  There are no villains in this movie.  The only force of antagonism comes from what-society-expects-one-to-do. (Or maybe just from how we've come to see ourselves.)

Being a Tykwer film, it doesn’t shy away from the philosophical: asking questions about the biological and the ethical side of human life, the deterministic way of viewing our sexuality and gender, the right to die w/ dignity, fate and numerology, Romantic poetry, angels, and postmodern art and aesthetics – and all in a brisk film that comes in under 2 hours.  What other mad genius would intermesh a lecture on stem cell research with a sex fantasy AND a digression on pop art star Jeff Koons – scored to David Bowie’s Space Oddity???

(Maybe appropriate, since Bowie himself is polymorphously bisexual…)

If you like smart movies, if you like experimental camera and music editing, if you like to challenge hetro/monoga-normative sexuality, and if you like seeing realistic people in their 40’s having fulfilling romantic and sexual experiences: check out 3.

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