Finally. Tom Tykwer is back in Germany making a film in his native German language. In all respect, THE INTERNATIONAL was a pretty solid action film however incoherent the storyline, and PERFURME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER was over the top and too self-important (beautiful cinematography and production design, though). I suddenly missed RUN LOLA RUN.
Tykwer's "3" moves in a slower pace than RUN LOLA RUN, but fast enough that it doesn't border on sleep-inducing. It is a tale of three people, of modern relationships, and in between a truckload of philosophical references. Freud and Spinoza gets mentioned in the dialogue and the characters debate with their personal ideologies.
The trailer alone prompted me to make this movie mandatory viewing: (and this is also the basic plot of the film) a man and a woman who have never married has been living together for about 20 years. Their relationship has reached a certain stage where nothing is new or exciting anymore; they don't have kids, and one of them has a life-threatening disease.
Enter a third party- a man, a genetic expert who seems good at what he does, but is discontent with his life. He has an affair with the woman, and later on with the man.
Complications arise when the woman gets pregnant, and that awkward three-way silent confrontation at that apartment has me biting my nails in suspense.
Of course just when you think you had the whole story figured out, think again. The script (also by Tykwer) is filled with twists and turns you'd normally expect from a classic 1980s Filipino drama. The plot is easy to follow and believable, the characters' motivations authentic and easy to relate to.
Here is a story where judgment for each character is difficult to pass. No black and whites. Everyone in the triad shares the same fate from the beginning and meets the same outcome at the end.
More than anything, "3" challenges our social and moral definitions of gender and relationship, breaks the stigma of homophobia (by actually presenting homosexual relations as a generally-accepted phenomena, but then again the setting is in Europe where liberalism exists), and gives both man and woman equal choices and chances in society, and in life. I am thrilled that the conversation in this movie is packed with maturity. I am appalled at what passes for mature dialogue these days (I-pack up mo na 'yang Lucy Torres mo...!).
Lyrical, unpretentious and filled with wit, "3" enables us to understand people and unconventional setups. The ideology is individualistic. The film makes an allusion to life and all its funny surprises, therefore enriching the entire experience. The ending caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting the treatment Tykwer gave to his characters given the expected outcome of similar situations in story structure. But I'm glad of the story's optimism and unflinching ode to love and life.