Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tom Tykwer dazzles audiences with "3", a metaphysical drama (set in Berlin) about a "hidden" love triangle

Tonight Reel Affirmations 20 screened, at the Goethe Institute in Washington DC, Tom Tykwer’s new (2010) existential film “Three” (“Drei” or even “3”).   The “X-Film Creative Pool”  film is set for theatrical US distribution by Strand Releasing, but also carried the Warner Brother’s Casablanca intro.

The film opens with a number of split screen etudes about the significance of the number 3, which Clive Barker had explained on the opening page of his novel “Imajica”.  It’s pretty much the same. Three’s a crowd, or maybe it’s a real family.

Hanna (Sophie Rois) is a Berlin (Germany) television producer, in love with Simon (Sebastian Schipper), who has to deal with his mother’s death from pancreatic cancer, and then his own confrontation with testicular cancer.  Both, unbeknownst to one another, fall for Adam (David Striesow), an middle aged super-hero of sorts whose interests include sailing, choral singing and competitive swimming.  There are kids involved, living in gingerbread German houses; toward the end, the group will make the argument that you really can have a “marriage” of three people as parents, an idea many will not like. The film also argues that true bisexuality exists with males as well as with women when the psychological dynamics (polarities) are there. 

But the political and social arguments (even about polyamory) aside, the deeper issues are metaphysical, which Tykwer dazzles in front of us in a hypermodern 2.35:1 canvas.  There is a stunning orchestral and chamber music score by Tykwer himself as well as Heil, Klimek and Mounsey (there is a passage that reminds one of Bernard Herrmann in “Psycho” or “Vertigo”).  One of his ideas is that people have flexible identities – he challenges the idea that people need to pin themselves down (invoking the debate about the recent policies of Facebook and Google+ not to allow double lives on their sites, for example).  Another is that it seems wrong to him that some people need to see other conform to their “rules” in order to remain responsible for what they do.   Tykwer gets very explicit in his images about potential insults to the body – by surgery prep (Simon undergoes his surgery under a spinal and remains awake and sees it all go), as well as what  swimmers take as routine (even Adam’s armpits are shaved).  He also has some rather graphic dream sequences in black-and-white (one where Simon experiences all of his teeth falling out). Despite the destruction, there is rebirth, as Adam finds, first with Simon, then with Hanna.  Finally, the relationship leads to a medical enigma (starting with a pregnancy test scene).

The visual and music style of the film approaches that of Malick’s “The Tree of Life”.

Here’s the official Facebook site

Here is Strand’s official trailer.


Tykwer (Germany's David Lynch?) is well known for “Run Lola Run” and “Winter Sleepers”, both of which I have seen, the latter, as I recall, at the University of Minnesota during an International Film Festival years ago.

After the film, there was a reception upstairs, where the Institute has an exhibition of the photography of Frederike Brandenberg, link


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