Third Person



Good actors wasted in muddled mess with sex, language.
  • Review Date: June 22, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Two vague messages might be extracted: Always watch your kids, and never trust a writer.

Positive role models

One character tries to help another with some money, but it's not very clear whether what he's done is a good thing or a bad thing. Other characters aren't very nice to one another.


A man punches another man, who draws a gun. The gun is pointed at several people but never fired. Other guns are produced but not fired. In another scene, a man forcibly removes a woman from his apartment, dragging her across the floor. There's a strange, not very well explained subplot about a man who has sex with and/or sexually abuses his grown daughter. Also quite a bit of yelling, plus talk of a child who drowned in a swimming pool (nothing is shown).


A female character is shown naked and topless in more than one scene. She drops her robe and must run through a hotel hallway to get back to her room. She's also shown kissing and having sex with a main male character, as well as a secondary male character. It's suggested after the fact that the second man is her father. (She goes to see him willingly, though she appears uncomfortable.) In another storyline, another couple has sex one time, with no nudity shown.


"F--k" is used several times. "S--t," "hell," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), and "a--hole" are all heard at least once.


Apple iPhones are prominent, as is an Apple MacBook. Budweiser beer is mentioned by name.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters are seen drinking and smoking cigarettes in a background way. A writer has a glass of wine at his desk, and a character orders several strong drinks in a bar, but apparently because he's mainly looking for something cold. No one appears to be drunk.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 20, 2014
DVD release date:September 30, 2014
Cast:Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody
Director:Paul Haggis
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Run time:137 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexuality/nudity

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written byjohnswanson November 4, 2014

This confusing movie has a lot of sex/nudity.

I'm not sure most teens will want to watch his film, and that's good because they probably shouldn't. Paul Haggis, who directed Crash, tries to recreate some of that magic in this move. Olivia Wilde is in this movie so of course she is naked and in a few sex scenes. They are not overly explicit, but they are certainly not for kids. The language is a little rough, and there is a strong product placement for Apple. One of the main characters smokes and drinks, and another drinks and drinks in a bar. This is not a great movie so if any of this content concerns you then don't bother with this film.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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