"3" Tells the Tale of a Bed-Dead Relationship That Finds New Life

After 20 years together, 40-ish arts professionals Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper) have succumbed to bed death. Other stresses burden the relationship: the passing of Simon's mother, his diagnosis of testicular cancer soon after, the insistence of writer/director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The International) on constantly using split screens. A third party, genetic scientist Adam (Devid Striesow), unknowingly reignites the couple's lust by providing them each with a secret: Hanna begins an affair with Adam after meeting him at a conference; Simon, new to same-sexing, later gets a handjob from him at a public swimming pool. Although there's apparently nothing Adam can't do — advancing stem-cell research, sailing, motorcycle-riding, avant-garde choral singing, maintaining an excellent relationship with his ex-wife, bedding beauties of both genders — Striesow, with his gelatinous face, is an exceedingly uncharismatic screen presence. More willing suspension of disbelief — or suppression of giggles — is required when Adam, trying to assuage besotted Simon's uncertainty about how he should now define himself, instructs: "Say goodbye to your deterministic understanding of biology," a line last uttered by women's-studies majors circa 1987. Tykwer himself is unable to bid farewell to it, as is all too evident in the larded final scenes.

 
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