Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Three Worlds

Three worlds, all of them broodingly self-serious and none of them more than occasionally interesting.

June 20, 2013

-By David Rooney


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1379608-Three_Worlds_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The trio of principal characters in Catherine Corsini’s Three Worlds are all touched by the same tragedy and all react in different ways. But what they share is a propensity for emotionally opaque behavior that keeps them at arm’s length. While the story of intersecting lives might almost have worked as stylish high melodrama in the Pedro Almodóvar vein, this stiflingly restrained French dirge about morality, guilt and atonement is chilly and constipated, mistaking ponderousness for intensity.

Opening with a jolt of out-of-control action, the film clocks Alan (Raphaël Personnaz) and his two best buddies at the drunken tail end of a bachelor’s night, joyriding recklessly around the outer-Paris suburbs. We gradually learn that 30-year-old Al is the son of a cleaning woman who has diligently scrambled up the administrative chain of a car dealership owned by Testard (Jean-Pierre Malo), his mother’s longtime employer. Al is ten days away from marrying the boss’ daughter (Adele Haenel); he is also becoming a partner in the business and is directly in line to take over. With the keys to the office safe in his hand—hello, foreshadowing!—he’s the embodiment of the ambitious working-class dream.

But while speeding home from the bachelor party, he hits a pedestrian and, at his friends’ urging, drives off after a quick glance at the injured man (Rasha Bukvic). The hit-and-run accident is witnessed from her balcony by Juliette (Clotilde Hesme), a med-school student completing her psychology specialization and wrestling with ambivalence about the direction her life is taking. She calls an ambulance and comforts the man as he loses consciousness.

Via police and hospital reports, Juliette tracks down the victim, an undocumented immigrant construction worker from Moldavia in critical condition, and his wife Vera (Arta Dobroshi), who is devastated to learn that if her comatose husband survives he will be a quadriplegic. Plagued by remorse, Alan also does some sleuthing. He visits the hospital, where Juliette recognizes him from the accident scene but says nothing.

Pregnant and uncertain about her relationship with philosophy lecturer Frédéric (Laurent Capelluto), Juliette follows visibly distraught Alan, eventually confronting him. Increasingly unable to extricate herself from a tricky situation, she becomes a mediator between Al and the unknowing Vera. But negotiations are complicated by unexpected feelings between Juliette and Alan as the life he has strived for begins to disintegrate, and by the embittered reaction of Vera when she finally connects the dots.

The script by Corsini and Benoît Graffin is capably constructed and generates a modicum of suspense. But at no point do we ever feel much for these characters, despite the bursts of mournful strings underscoring their inner turmoil. The dithering irresponsibility of Juliette, in particular, makes her a frustrating central figure. The suspicion arises that even without the destabilizing effect of tragedy to condition their behavior, these three would be morose bores. And with their one-note solemnity colored by infrequent sparks of anger or despair, the actors do little to contradict that.

Claire Mathon’s moody widescreen cinematography gives a certain sumptuousness to the agonizing conflicts. But it’s all so elegantly cerebral it’s moribund. For a drama built around life-altering experiences, Three Worlds is remarkably unaffecting.
-The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Three Worlds

Three worlds, all of them broodingly self-serious and none of them more than occasionally interesting.

June 20, 2013

-By David Rooney


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1379608-Three_Worlds_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The trio of principal characters in Catherine Corsini’s Three Worlds are all touched by the same tragedy and all react in different ways. But what they share is a propensity for emotionally opaque behavior that keeps them at arm’s length. While the story of intersecting lives might almost have worked as stylish high melodrama in the Pedro Almodóvar vein, this stiflingly restrained French dirge about morality, guilt and atonement is chilly and constipated, mistaking ponderousness for intensity.

Opening with a jolt of out-of-control action, the film clocks Alan (Raphaël Personnaz) and his two best buddies at the drunken tail end of a bachelor’s night, joyriding recklessly around the outer-Paris suburbs. We gradually learn that 30-year-old Al is the son of a cleaning woman who has diligently scrambled up the administrative chain of a car dealership owned by Testard (Jean-Pierre Malo), his mother’s longtime employer. Al is ten days away from marrying the boss’ daughter (Adele Haenel); he is also becoming a partner in the business and is directly in line to take over. With the keys to the office safe in his hand—hello, foreshadowing!—he’s the embodiment of the ambitious working-class dream.

But while speeding home from the bachelor party, he hits a pedestrian and, at his friends’ urging, drives off after a quick glance at the injured man (Rasha Bukvic). The hit-and-run accident is witnessed from her balcony by Juliette (Clotilde Hesme), a med-school student completing her psychology specialization and wrestling with ambivalence about the direction her life is taking. She calls an ambulance and comforts the man as he loses consciousness.

Via police and hospital reports, Juliette tracks down the victim, an undocumented immigrant construction worker from Moldavia in critical condition, and his wife Vera (Arta Dobroshi), who is devastated to learn that if her comatose husband survives he will be a quadriplegic. Plagued by remorse, Alan also does some sleuthing. He visits the hospital, where Juliette recognizes him from the accident scene but says nothing.

Pregnant and uncertain about her relationship with philosophy lecturer Frédéric (Laurent Capelluto), Juliette follows visibly distraught Alan, eventually confronting him. Increasingly unable to extricate herself from a tricky situation, she becomes a mediator between Al and the unknowing Vera. But negotiations are complicated by unexpected feelings between Juliette and Alan as the life he has strived for begins to disintegrate, and by the embittered reaction of Vera when she finally connects the dots.

The script by Corsini and Benoît Graffin is capably constructed and generates a modicum of suspense. But at no point do we ever feel much for these characters, despite the bursts of mournful strings underscoring their inner turmoil. The dithering irresponsibility of Juliette, in particular, makes her a frustrating central figure. The suspicion arises that even without the destabilizing effect of tragedy to condition their behavior, these three would be morose bores. And with their one-note solemnity colored by infrequent sparks of anger or despair, the actors do little to contradict that.

Claire Mathon’s moody widescreen cinematography gives a certain sumptuousness to the agonizing conflicts. But it’s all so elegantly cerebral it’s moribund. For a drama built around life-altering experiences, Three Worlds is remarkably unaffecting.
-The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here