It’s been ten years since writer-director Paul Haggis, quite surprisingly, won some Oscars for his Crash, a very good but perhaps overrated movie. That film had a bunch of storylines weaving together, and gave some good actors decent showcases. It also seemed to be setting the stage for a promising directorial career. Haggis is yet to capitalize on his Oscar triumph. His latest probably won’t do much to change that. It’s a respectable but divisive effort that will confound a lot of viewers the way Cameron Crowe’s complex and unjustly maligned Vanilla Sky did. It tries to do a lot, and it doesn’t succeed on all fronts. Some will see it as a train wreck, wherein I see it as a flawed but reputable effort. It’s a puzzle movie with Michael (Liam Neeson), a struggling Pulitzer Prize winning author, as its centerpiece. His tempestuous lover Anna (Olivia Wilde) comes to visit him in Paris. The two have a strange, sadomasochistic relationship that will be explained. The reasons are a bit preposterous, but they make sense in context. There are two other story arcs featuring Adrien Brody, Mila Kunis and James Franco. The stories tie together with one of those big movie twists that will either make or break the picture for you. I liked the twist, but I wouldn’t argue with you if you hated it. There’s enough solid acting for two films to go with the sporadic kookiness. I think Haggis has yet to deliver his best film, and he’ll be able to deliver it once he calms down a bit.
Director: Paul Haggis
Producer: Paul Breuls, Michael Nozik, Paul Haggis, Nils Dünker, Anatole Taubman, Arcadiy Golubovich, Timothy O'Nair, Guy Tannahill, Fahar Faizaan and Andrew Hopkins
Cast: Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Moran Atias, Mila Kunis, Kim Basinger, Maria Bello, Caroline Goodall and David Harewood