A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Third Person is multiple-storyline drama from Paul Haggis, who also made the Oscar-winning Crash. (It's highly unlikely that this movie will elicit the same reaction; it's a mess.) There's some fighting, and guns are produced but never fired. In one scene, a man forcibly removes a woman from his apartment by dragging her, kicking and screaming, across the floor. In another scene, it's suggested that a grown woman has had sex with her father. (The man in question urges her to come to his hotel, and she does what he says, but she appears uncomfortable.) There's some female nudity (toplessness, not full frontal), two sex scenes, and some kissing. Language includes several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "a--hole," etc. Characters occasionally drink and smoke, and Apple products are on display in several scenes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In Paris, an aging, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Liam Neeson) taps away on his computer, working on his latest novel. He's sleeping with his beautiful young protégée (Olivia Wilde), while his wife (Kim Basinger) waits at home. Meanwhile, a young mother (Mila Kunis) is fighting to see her son again; her ex-husband (James Franco) has taken the boy away after the mother allowed him to play with dry cleaning bags in the closet. And in Italy, a man who steals fashion ideas for cheap knock-offs (Adrien Brody) becomes fascinated by a beautiful gypsy woman (Moran Atias) who's lost her daughter to child trafficking. These three storylines continue to unwind until, at last, it appears that there's a connection among them.
Is it any good?
Despite the presence of fine actors doing fine work -- especially Wilde, bringing intelligence and playfulness to her role -- THIRD PERSON is an absolute mess. The gypsy/child-trafficking plot is the weakest; despite the early reveal that it's a scam, the story somehow keeps going, with characters conveniently overlooking crucial events. Coincidences, such as a lost piece of paper or surprise revelations about someone's identity, feel like total writer's inventions rather than anything arising naturally out of the story.
Writer/director Paul Haggis, whose Best Picture winner Crash is as criticized as it is admired, seems to have banked on the idea that the mystery of the stories' connections would keep audiences invested for 137 long minutes. But the characters make this difficult, continually distancing themselves with their dumb behavior. The final reveal is more infuriating and frustrating than it is thoughtful. It's a dirty trick that may have viewers calling for that Oscar back.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Third Person's sexual content. Did any of it seem unnecessary? Was the scene with the woman and the man implied to be her father sex, or abuse? What do you think the intent of that storyline is?
How did you feel about the movie's ending? Did it wrap up the storylines effectively? What new information did it provide? Was it satisfying?
Are there any characters you'd consider to be positive role models? Is there any admirable behavior in the movie?
What other movies have you seen with multiple storylines? How did they compare to this one?
- In theaters: June 20, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2014
- Cast: Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody
- Director: Paul Haggis
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 137 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some sexuality/nudity
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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