Opening 23 Dec 2010
Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper) are an unmarried, comfortable, childless couple for twenty years. Busy in their professions: TV moderator and art technician, respectively, they lead independent lives, going out alone with friends to a restaurant, to a Robert Wilson play, etc. A great deal of their communication is via mobile phone, which is fine as long as the phones are switched on; sometimes they are not, so that Hanna doesn’t know that Simon is in the hospital undergoing an operation for cancer of the testicles, while she is snuggling up to Adam (Devid Striesow). Simon soon recovers and evens the odds by having sexual encounters himself with Adam, sometimes in a beautiful indoor Berlin swimming pool. The relationship of this threesome is the basic story, with sidelines about Simon’s mother’s funeral, having children, and the ethics of stem-cell research, which is Adam’s line of work.
The actors are excellent. However, Sophie Rois as Hanna talks rapidly and not always clearly, about her job, her opinions and her philosophy on any subject. Often I didn’t understand her German and when I did, I still didn’t get what she was saying. Perhaps she is too intelligent for me – or just wordy. The only time she was really dumbstruck and silent was when she realized that she was sharing Adam with her own husband – the best scene in the film. I often felt that these people and their friends had too much time – not that they were egoistic, i.e., Simon does care for his cancer-sick mother, even feeding her mercy pills to enable a quicker death, but, basically, they only had themselves to think of.
A film critic for Die Welt, Hanns-Georg Rodek, said that “if you want pure Zeitgeist, then Drei is the film to watch.” Perhaps he is right; perhaps professional childless adults do represent current culture in Germany or the western world. Director Tom Tykwer said that he was happy to be back in Germany, filming in his native language, after having made Hollywood films such as Perfume and The International. Some critics compared Drei to other threesome films such as François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim from 1962. I would compare it to a more recent film, shown at the 2010 Filmfest Hamburg: Heartbeats by young Canadian Xavier Dolan. Drei is Heartbeats twenty years later, when the protagonists are no longer young, fresh and innocent, but desperate and lonely in a dry and cynical way, although the ending leaves hope that this could change for the better. (Becky Tan)