When it comes to directors, there aren’t many as visually astute as one Tom Tykwer. However, the world of relationship dramas don’t always allow for the most vibrant of visual palettes. Therefore, when one says that a director like Tykwer has found himself behind the camera of a new relationship picture, both expectations and intrigue have to be at the craziest of heights.
And in many cases, Tykwer’s latest film, Drei (3), more than lives up to this potential and hype.
The German-language drama is not quite like anything we’ve seen from Tykwer, and yet it holds all of his staples. The narrative itself is quite simple. Following the story of three people, Drei focuses its glare on this trio, and their interchanging relationships. Set around a married 40-something couple, we see this husband and wife team not only fall out of love, but fall in love with the same man. Starring Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schipper and Devid Striesow, Drei is a fantastically entertaining bit of drama that ultimately falls apart do to a lack of narrative weight thrust throughout its two-hour runtime.
Performance wise, the film is absolutely impeccable. Sophie Rois and Sebastian Schipper are great here as the main couple, Hanna and Simon, and really give a great emotional core to an otherwise colder feature. The two share a great deal of chemistry, and the little moments the two share, particularly when a revelation is come to, are both exhilarating to watch, and absolutely heart breaking to take in emotionally. Schipper has a great physicality about him, and while some of what occurs to his character feels a bit out-of-place and almost melodramatic, it does fit in well with the film and its aesthetic. Finally, Devid Striesow is great here as the pair’s respective love interest, and really makes the narrative click.
Tykwer’s direction also helps the film move along quite well. Featuring some fantastic cinematography, the film uses Tykwer’s patented split screen, kinetic direction, and slight sense of humor to really move the film forward at an entertaining and engaging clip. Not the most revelatory of narratives, Drei is at times an acting piece, as well as a directorially driven film, blending the two rather well. Tykwer definitely has a great stylistic eye and a deft hand at crafting a film that takes a rather stagnant narrative and giving quite a bit of life to it, while also allowing his film to breath. Some of the most thrilling moments here are simply glances shared by two or three of our characters, and not the various bits of split screen used to cheaply liven up phone calls or the film’s opening credits.
And here in lies the film’s main issue. Clocking in at just less than two hours, the film is far too long for its own good. Tykwer doesn’t shy away from anything narratively, and while it’s a refreshing take on a seemingly stale story, there are a lot of moments that simply don’t play well with each other. Despite some vivid use of split screen and other stylistic cues that Tykwer has become known for, the film falls flat, feeling right around 20 minutes too long. Give this film a good trim and you have a brisk, engaging, and ultimately intellectually stimulating look at love, relationships, and what it means to not only love, but be loved. Instead we get a film that moves, but at quite a sluggish and uninteresting pace.
Overall, not the film Tykwer will be known best for, the film is at times frustratingly slow and poorly paced, as well as being absolutely engrossing and a great look at the modern state of love and relationship, making this one of the year’s more odd pictures. Far from perfect, Drei is a type of problematic film that should be made. Visually striking and well acted, the film may not be the greatest film you’ll see this year, but it is definitely one that any fan of Tykwer should make a point of seeing.