Paul Haggis Talks About Third Person
Paul Haggis talks about list latest film that looks at three interlocking love stories involving three couples in three cities: Rome, Paris, and New York.
Q. This film features myriad characters whom we learn are all connected in a way. As a writer/director, what message were you trying to convey using this narrative structure?
A. I like to write about things I don’t understand and relationships are at the top of that. And I really admire the filmmakers whom I saw growing up: the French New Wave, the Italians, people like [Luis] Buñuel and [Michelangelo] Antonioni and [François] Truffaut and [Jean-Luc] Godard, who made films that really challenged the audience and didn’t give you all the answers and made you think. So I wanted to make a film that you had an emotional reaction to but you had to walk out on the sidewalk with your friends afterwards and figure out what the hell happened. [Laughs] And some people get it, some people don’t, some people get it at different moments. And I was just happy to be able to make that.
Q. What were some of the challenges of tackling the tricky subject of love and relationships?
A. In telling a film about love and relationships, you just dig into yourself and your own experiences and the things you see going on around you that trouble you and the questions you ask yourself about love and allowing yourself to be loved and being vulnerable enough and allowing someone in. It’s such a risk whenever you settle into a relationship. These characters all play to different aspects of that. What happens if you try and change somebody and you change him or her into someone you no longer love? What happens if you trust someone who’s totally untrustworthy? Or what if you believe in someone who doesn’t even believe in himself. Is love transformative? And what’s the opposite? If you hold a mirror up to somebody – a very cruel mirror – and say, “Look at yourself. Look right here. This is who you are. Face yourself.” Who’s reflected in that mirror: you or them? And what result do you get there? So there were a lot of things I wanted to explore.
Q. What does Paul Haggis, the writer, think of Paul Haggis, the director?
A. I always like doing what I’m not doing. If I’m writing, I’d like to be directing. And if I’m directing, I wish I was writing. It’s not like we do real work. I mean, we suffer, but it’s not like people who have actual jobs. I’ve done actual jobs. They’re hard. With this, we get to play and I’m so grateful to be allowed to make films and play.
Q. How did this particular film come to be and what inspired it?
A. This film started when I was on the set of The Next Three Days and one of the actresses whom I was working with, Moran Atias, said, in between takes, “You know, you should make a movie about relationships. A multi-character.” And I went, “Huh, that’s interesting.” So I started interviewing her about her previous relationships and I started thinking about mine and some of my friends, who have gone through some really troubling times. That’s how it started. And by asking myself really tough questions and making things harder and harder for the protagonist. I don’t think I was nice to writers in this movie. I don’t think they come off really well. But it’s truthful.