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Third Person (Blu-ray Review)

Third-PersonThird Person is the latest film from Paul Haggis, director of the on the nose Academy Award winner for Best Picture; Crash.  The film was a entrant in the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where it wasn’t met with the greatest of buzz or accolades.  Despite boasting a rather impressive compilation of noteworthy stars and actors in its cast, the film received a minimal release this past summer in June.  To date, the film has made over just one million dollars worldwide on an unknown budget.  Haggis’ film is making its way to Blu-ray, courtesy of Sony, this Tuesday (September 30).

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Film 

Like his film Crash, Haggis’ Third Person follows three separate groups of characters through their own “love stories”.  Michael receives a visit from his lover, whom he left his wife for, at a hotel in Paris and they deal with her commitment issues.  Julia is struggling with a custody battle with her ex Rick, who is trying to take their son away from her after she allegedly tried to kill him.  While on a trip to Italy, Scott falls in love with a gypsy woman whose daughter is being held for money by a Russian mobster.

Paul Haggis has all all the essentials on paper to make a pretty interesting film.  Multiple, loosely intertwined love stories, a notable cast of veteran actors, stars, Academy Award winners and nominees and exotic settings.  However, this film winds up being rather uninteresting, drab and for the most part boring.  Nothing really hits any major beats to have this movie stand out in some sort of way.  And by the time most of the stories reach a point of excitement or real conflict, you’re almost checked out of this two hour and fifteen minute film.  Trimming some of the fat here and letting the film move a bit faster could possibly have done some wonders for this drama.

Every member of the cast does their very best here.  Its a matter of the script and the way the film is cut that is really the issue.  I need to give some props to Mila Kunis in the film, because she’s come a long way and this may very well be her very best performance.  I don’t find Kunis to be a bad actress, just a more limited one, who in these sort of big cast dramas and the like sticks out like a sore thumb (not to be confused with me calling her “bad” per se, just having a noticeable gap in talent between her and veteran she’d share the screen with) and is usually upstaged big time by her co-stars.  No the case with Third Person as she manages to go toe to toe with everyone involved and really shines brightest of anyone in the film.  So much, that at this point, I don’t think she’s really going to have those issues I mentioned before going forward.

If I may stray from the actual content for a moment, let’s talk about the cover art for this Blu-ray.  What a mislead!  How many people are going to be sourly disappointed with a depressing, dour two hour and fifteen minute relationship drama following their rental based off the cover?  This thing looks like they are trying to sell it as some sort of Liam Neeson action movie, sort of like a Taken or something of the like.  Take a look at it, with Neeson looking like a badass, his back turned toward us.  Its only in the little pictures surrounding him that you can see sort of what the movie really is.  But, will people notice that, the image of Neeson is pretty stand out and prominent that I can see someone being like “Third Person?  Well, I’m sure it’ll be at least some entertaining action escape even if its not very good”.

Third Person takes your interest early on, but really sort of loses you before the first hour is even up.  It has a stellar cast giving it their all, but the material just doesn’t prove to be interesting.  And with the run time this movie sports, its hard for them to overcome some of this dour material.  This is basically the Crash outline for storytelling, except with less people and less interesting things going on.  Maybe some may enjoy it, but I highly doubt anyone would come away loving the film.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.36:1

Clarity/Detail:  This really is a perfect picture.  It is crisp and sharp and no detail is hidden, not a piece of a blur in sight.  Background imagery is captured just as well as what is in front of your face.  Detail is high and noticeable no matter the distance of the shot.  Its a really impressive image that impresses even though it is a modern film.

Depth:  Great 3 dimensional quality to the image.  James Franco’s apartment and the hotel Olivia Wilde is staying at are two great depictions featuring a relation between background and foreground.

Black Levels:  Blacks are luscious and really help enhance the image.  Detail is easily defined no matter how deep the blacks.  Images are also enhanced with a great deal of its shading and assistance in sharpness.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are very natural, but pop due to such a rich transfer.  The palette isn’t crazy, but there is plenty of definition and variation on the realistic colors on display in the frame.

Flesh Tones:  Consistent and lifelike.  Every wrinkle, facial crack (Hi Liam), stubble and blemish comes represented like looking through a window.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Descriptive Service

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, English Commentary Subtitles

Dynamics:  While dialogue heavy, the film does contain plenty of other sounds that enhance and make for a perfect listening experience.  There’s a scene where Adrien Brody is at a train station and it whizzes by and feels as if you were sitting right next to him.  Another scene features him going on a crazy car ride through Italy and that is as impressive as even some of the best action movie tracks.  There is also a great balance and smooth accompaniment from vocals, sound and music in the mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Vehicles, doors shutting, music and some vibrating ambiance is enhanced by the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Most of it is ambiance and score, but there are some impressive moments in market places and during some more action oriented moments in the film that make use of your rear speakers.  Also right and left interplay is rather impressively displayed.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean, crisp and clear.  A perfect representation and this is the aspect that mattered most.

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Extras 

While not a lot is listed here, the information provided proves pretty sufficient.

Commentary – Paul Haggis, Moran Atias, Laurence Bennett, Jo Francis and Michael Nozik

Q&A With Writer/Director Paul Haggis (HD, 33:29) – Video of a Q&A session with Paul Haggis following a screening of the film.

The Making Of Third Person (HD, 9:49) – A very EPK like featurette featuring cast and crew interviews discussing the basics of the film.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:12)

Previews – Magic In The Moonlight, Land Ho!, For No Good Reason, Only Lovers Left Alive, Predestination

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Summary 

Sony brings to Blu-ray an outstanding presentation of Paul Haggis’ Third Person.  The audio and video are an example of shear perfection for the medium.  The extras provided are decent enough.  The film itself seemed an overlong dour and boring affair however.  It had a great cast and concept but failed to utilize it.  This is something I would strongly suggest renting, but if you’re going to purchase it, you won’t be disappointed with the Blu-ray they’ve put together for the film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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