Rated: R for language and some sexuality/nudity. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: June 20, 2014 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
Interlocking ambitious romantic melodrama from estimable writer/director Paul Haggis falls short of his more memorable features, like In The Valley of Elah or Crash which had a strong racial conflict amidst a poignant SoCal depiction.
Most of the shooting took place in Rome's Cinecitta Studios as the bulk of the action takes place in the Big Apple, Rome and Paris and features two of the stars of Oz the Great and Powerful, James Franco and Mila Kunis (whose big-budgeted Jupiter Ascending has been delayed to early next year).
Part of the problem is the story not justifying a near epic-length running time and confusion with some of the relational angst regarding Adrien Brody's Scott, a fashion design "businessman". Looking for fast-food at a Bar Americano he cutely thanks a Roman bartender in another Eastern European language. A wandering, edgy Monica (Moran Atlas) is indebted to smugglers whose daughter may have to pay a carnal price.
Olivia Wilde (Rush,The Words) is Anna, a reporter who feels comfortable in bed with much older partners, one of whom provides a kind of "protection". Former soap-opera thespian Julia (a fairly decent Kunis) is at odds with prospering, imperious New York artist Rick (Franco) in a heated custody battle over her young son with financial, legal woes mounting. The lachrymose woman is limited to a cleaning position in a New York City hotel.
Maybe the linchpin of Haggis's watchable cast but substandard execution is the writer's block of Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michael whose ex-wife (Kim Basinger) identifies the numbness of his creative process. In Three Words there is a certain intriguing complexity unraveling but the way the characters are short-shifted (maybe with the exception of Kunis) renders it far from a fashionable, timely cinematic assignation. One that is closer to the filmmaker's well-acted but uneven and implausible The Next Three Days.