The latest film from German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The International) sets itself up for a pretty easy joke right from the onset with the introduction of the concept of “simultaneous thinking”, which is basically one’s thoughts drifting away from the visuals at hand. It’s a joke of some sort, forcing the concept into the viewer’s head and thus taking their attention off of the film, which often requires extreme attention. Tykwer throws an excessive amount of concepts and themes into the air (the cycle of life, international and homespun terrorism, preconceived notions of relationships) just to see where they may land amongst discriminating audiences. The film’s proceeds via a traditional narrative concerning a husband and wife who are both secretly having an affair with the same man. The conclusion to their story is anything but traditional as religious and societal norms are challenged, but left unanswered, much like the rest of the messages at hand.
Tykwer fans will be pleased by the director’s visual flourishes, which sometimes reflect the plot, but are oftentimes superfuous and inexplicable. Images overlap and float across the screen, four-way split screen overwhelms the viewer Time Code-style, impressive-looking performance art is used to reflect the emotions at hand, animation is used to…no idea. The first half hour of the film is filled to the brim with these quirky embellishments, but these occurrences, such as the early appearance of a character’s dead mother as an angel, hardly complement the atmosphere of the remainder of the film. The same goes for the film’s humor, which is hit-or-miss at best, often relying upon conventional musical cues and situations. The film does contain plenty of interesting conversation-starters and its relationship dynamics are compelling enough to hold a viewer’s attention up to its anticlimax, but minds will inevitably wander quite a bit throughout its two hour running time.
3 opens today at Lansdowne’s Cinema 16:9.