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Three Worlds
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by Jay Seaver

"Not a place I'm anxious to visit."
2 stars

"Three Worlds" ("Trois Mondes" in the original French) executes what it is reasonably well - almost well enough that it looks like director Catherine Corsini and her collaborators are going to make it work. The trouble is, she's chosen a story where people make bad enough decisions in the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident that the audience's sympathy and interest is somewhat harder to come by, and while the viewer doesn't necessarily need to like the characters, it's something else to be annoyed by them.

Start with Al (Raphael Personnaz), a Parisian car salesman about to marry the boss's daughter who, after tying one on with a couple of friends and co-workers (Reda Kateb & Alban Aumard) as part of impromptu bachelor party, hits a man walking home from work on the late shift. Medical student Juliette (Clotide Hesme) sees this, and in addition to calling an ambulance also winds up tracking down the man's wife Vera (Arta Dobroshi), as the official channels aren't going to knock themselves out for illegal immigrant workers. That might, perhaps, be that, except that Juliette and Vera become friends, and Juliette recognizes Al when the guilt-ridden man makes a visit to the hospital to see his comatose victim.

Now, if Juliette had just taken the license plate number she wrote down and contacted the police, Al probably would have tearily confessed and the movie would have been over in twenty minutes. So, instead, she tracks him down herself, makes contact, decides he's basically a good guy and tries to help him find a way to assuage his guilt without spending a year or two in prison. That gives the film a plot, but it's a story that can only be played out so long before the characters all go from acting on understandable instincts to being not just selfish, but stupidly so. It's the sort of thing that, barring truly excellent performances and storytelling, is eventually going to exhaust one's patience, with the question being whether the movie ends before that happens.

The performances turn out to be decent; among the three main characters, at least, there are no weak links to be found. There's a unifying thread among these people of being nervous about their position - Juliette is in her first trimester and not sure how her relationship with the father is going to shake out; Vera, Adrian (Rasha Bukvic), and many of their friends are immigrants; Al is constantly aware that his mother was a maid to in-laws-to-be - that colors all of their performances. Individually, both Personnaz and Hesme find good ways of being halting and indecisive in an interesting way, while Dobroshi does a good job of making Vera powerless but not weak.

There's not a whole lot of interest to surround them, though - the subplots feel more like bulk than background. Al, especially, has a lot of supporting characters in his orbit, but they're either unpleasant in a simple way or just there without doing much (every time Adele Haenel shows up as his fiancee, it feels like she should be a bigger part of the story). Juliette, on the other hand, feels too isolated, despite seeming like she should have a lot of pressures pushing her in different directions. And the characterization surrounding the Moldavan immigrants often felt like familiar stereotypes, even if they are usually played out with different ethnic groups in the U.S. (As an aside, I have a feeling that I was missing a lot of cues on class and geography by only reading subtitles rather than knowing enough French to recognize the difference between the characters' accents.)

The thinness of how Corsini and company portray these three worlds and how they intersect is what makes it a frustrating film to watch. It's got a decent starting point, but after a while, it's impossible to avoid that this is a movie about how tortured the middle-class man who put a poor man into a coma and the middle-class woman who failed to report him are, and it just doesn't do enough to make that palatable.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23762&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/15/13 21:58:42
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2012 Festival de Cannes series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  21-Jun-2013
  DVD: 10-Sep-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  21-Jun-2013
  DVD: 10-Sep-2013




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