'Third Person': The interlocking of multiple stories is more confusing than illuminating

'Third Person' is directed by Paul Haggis of 'Crash.'

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
'Third Person' stars Liam Neeson (l.) and Olivia Wilde (r.).

Writer-director Paul Haggis likes to mash multiple story lines together. The Oscar-winning, vastly overrated “Crash” is his signature movie, and now he’s back with “Third Person,” another drama-orama that, like “Crash,” piles up stories that aren’t all that much worth telling in the first place.

There’s Mila Kunis playing a struggling New York hotel maid attempting to secure visitation rights to her young son, who is living with his artist dad in an expensive loft apartment. The artist is played by James Franco, from whom we haven’t heard much lately. There’s also Adrien Brody as a knock-off clothing designer in Rome who becomes infatuated with a Romanian gypsy (played by Israeli actress Moran Atias) who claims her 8-year-old daughter is being held for ransom. The best of the three stories has Liam Neeson playing a famous, washed-up novelist holed up in a swank Parisian hotel. He summons from America a girlfriend, played by Olivia Wilde, to join him, and their fun soon turns sour.

The best scene in the movie is also its funniest: Wilde’s character, stark naked, is locked out of her lover’s room and, in retreat, scampers helplessly through the expensive hallways. All three story lines eventually interlock in a semimystical way that is more “Huh?” than “Wow!” Grade: C+ (Rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity.)

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