Tom Tykwer has carved out one of the most agile careers in European cinema. From the delirious shock of his breakout film “Run Lola Run” to the arthouse chills of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” to the gloss of his transnational thriller “The International,” Tykwer has brought polish and new ideas to every film. With Three he makes another leap, back to the raw adventure of his early films and forward into something entirely new.
It begins at the beach, where Hanna and Simon engage in a scene of comically absurd miscommunication. He returns from the sea wanting to tell his partner about having just nearly drowned. She is so absorbed in her book that its fiction obscures his reality altogether. She either doesn’t hear him of doesn’t care to; it’s the middle of a beautiful relationship.
Pushing the story forward in a playful, intellectual style, Tykwer explores what happens to this educated, middle-aged Berlin couple as their disconnection grows. At a scholarly lecture, Hanna finds herself daydreaming about sex acts in Jeff Koons artworks, so it’s no surprise that when she meets Adam, she falls into a fast and furtive affair.
Simon also meets Adam. The two of them swim together at a spectacular indoor-outdoor pool in the city. Soon they too drift into a mutual attraction which also culminates in secret sex. Now these three Berliners find themselves in a literal love triangle, each one keeping it hidden from the others. But when Hanna discovers she is pregnant, the secrets can’t hold.
Tykwer seems at his most free here, leading his story in surprising directions that match the no-limits lives of his characters. At the same time, he allows himself moments of pure play with the form of the film, using all the visual and sonic sophistication he has developed in two decades of making films. It’s a delight to watch such smart eyes look at modern desire. [Synopsis courtesy of Cameron Bailey/Toronto International Film Festival]