Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tykwer’s 3

Simon has a cool job. He constructs industrial sculptures and corporate logos. He also has a pregnant wife, a male lover, and regular chemotherapy treatments. Holy Cats, it’s like the 2.0 release of the old Friends sitcom in Tom Tykwer’s reality-challenged wish fulfillment threesome drama 3 (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Hanna was not there when Simon was whisked off for an emergency procedure, because she was busy getting some with Adam. At least she does her level best to be there for her longtime partner during his recovery. In fact, their relationship improves to the point they decide to finally get hitched. They still guard their private time though. Hanna likes to nip away for the occasional quickie with Adam, while Simon swims laps at a cool looking pre-fab retro-modern indoor pool. He also engages in more than your basic congressional towel-snapping in the locker room with the very same Adam.

As expected, it is only a matter of time before Simon and Hanna show up as a couple at a hipster soiree Adam also happens to attend. Predictably, we witness a series of near misses, hasty retreats, and longing glances. Of course, if Tykwer does not put all three together in a room soon enough, audiences would demand their money back. A fair amount of melodrama follows, but everyone knows exactly where it is headed, since the one-sheet and even the very title give the game away.

The best part of 3 is the cool contemporary architecture of Tykwer’s locations, showing areas of Berlin rarely seen on film. The rest is pretty middling stuff, aside from a rather gross bit of business with bodily secretions. (Those who enjoy that in film should have the opportunity, but it ought to be properly labeled so it does not scandalize naïve Sex & Zen reviewing film writers.) However, probably the most shocking aspect of 3 is how pokey it is during the long second act, considering it was helmed by the director of Run, Lola, Run.

Maybe some will find the two male leads appealing, but it is hard to understand their shared interest in Sophie Rois’s Hanna, who is not very attractive on any level. As the mysterious other man times two, Devid Striesow seems to be doing a young Rutger Hauer impression, well enough one supposes. Without question, the strongest work in the film comes from Sebastian Schipper, whose Simon is pretty credible grappling with some big issues, like cancer and his sexuality.

Tykwer still has a sense of visual flair, even if his pacing is uncharacteristically sluggish. It is just very difficult to invest in at least two sides of the relationship triangle. Not recommended, 3 is basically a film to satisfy narrowly focused fetishists (pregnant women, bald chemo patients). However, if this describes you, 3 opens tomorrow (9/16) in New York at the Landmark Sunshine.