Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tom Tykwer: Beat as One (3)

Devid Streisow, Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schipper, 3, Strand Releasing, 2011.

The extreme visual rhythms and fractured striving protagonists of under-appreciated German auteur Tom Tykwer's filmic universe get a subdued surge in his under the radar new film, 3. A mercurial mixture of art house pretensions, relationship drama, sexual dynamism and revisionist romance, this peculiar yet ultimately endearing picture is worth a closer look.

After a lengthy set up which luxuriates in the mundane facilities of modern love, Tykwer gets down to the slowly simmering business of building up a tense love triangle. Arthur Hiller's forgotten Making Love (1982) and Gregg Araki's mostly unknown Splendor (1999) spring to mind as precursors to a male/female/male diagram of love and lust balanced with (mis)trust.

Sophie Rois recalls a distinctive and focused Fassbinder actress, Sebastian Schipper is beguilingly entreating and Devid Streisow perfection as the unreadable object of desire.  These three illuminate the screen as they carry on a Tykwer tradition of ambiguity and burning to live.

Art, science, entertainment and private lives are center stage and called into question as metropolitan Berlin is sampled under a microscope. Tykwer adores these constituencies of work and play, private and public. Since his wunderkind early years, where he became the art house darling for the likes of his original and daring films Winter Sleepers and Run Lola Run , he has followed his heart, traipsing from personal (Heaven, 3) to public (Perfume, The International) and at times finding the medium (The Princess and the Warrior). Despite all of this he has remained true to who he is as an artist. Writing, directing, producing and co-composing (always brilliantly, with Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek), he is a genuine Renaissance man, running for the pulse.

Although everything does not always feel smooth in his latest, in the end we feel touched and sort of transformed by the director's take on an old story. When we can feel his trio's hearts beat as one, we know he has reached us.

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