- Associated Press - Friday, September 10, 2010

VENICE, ITALY (AP) - It’s not clear who’s more daring, the German threesome or the French foursome.

In any case, multiple love is in the air at the Venice Film Festival.

Tom Tykwer presented his new film “Three (Drei)” here Friday, the story of a married couple who fall in love with the same man. French filmmaker Antony Cordier told a different tale earlier in the festival in his new film “Happy Few,” about two couples who form an immediate bond, which easily leads to switching sexual partners.

Both movies are in competition for the coveted Golden Lion, to be awarded Saturday evening at the festival’s end.

Cordier called his movie a search for “conjugal utopia” by today’s thirty-somethings who were raised with sexual freedom.

“They are trying to develop new chimeras as a result of this new sexual freedom. It is not bourgeois adultery lived in secret,” said Cordier, whose last film, “Cold Showers,” won France’s Prix Louis Delluc in 2005.

“It is an experience that happens to many people, it happens in many social brackets. We looked at this story because it is so ordinary and banal,” Cordier said.

In the film, Rachel meets Vincent when he works on a website for her jewelry business. She invites him and his wife for dinner with her husband, and before the friendship is cemented they all fall in love. Between the trysts, they keep up normal activities, going away together and out with their children.

But their attempt to have love without rules eventually is tested. Jealousies emerge and the couples need to confront the emotional price of their mutual, consensual affairs.

Marina Fois, who plays Rachel, said she agreed with Cordier’s preference not to analyze the characters in advance.

“He didn’t really want to talk about it beforehand, which is quite sweet because his characters aren’t people who premeditate things,” Fois said.

Cordier said he shot the love scenes without interruption, and cut them later.

He said the women were the engines in the movie, driving the relationships, organizing the normal life around the trysts.

“They make love 100 times in the movie, but one more time and everything becomes impossible,” Cordier said. “Reality is not as nice as the utopia they were dreaming of, which brings them to the end of the story.”

Tykwer’s “Three,” set in Berlin, peppers the Hollywood romantic comedy format with a bit of drama when a happy married couple, Hanna, played by Sophie Rois, and Simon (Sebastian Schipper) separately meet and fall for the same guy, Adam (Devid Striesow).

It’s Hanna who takes the plunge first, spending the night with Adam after running into him on more than one unexpected occasion.

Later in the film Simon meets Adam and sparks fly between them as well.

“It’s obvious that this film is full of romantic moments because the three actors fall in love with each other. So the fact that it became a comedy was just a coincidence,” Tykwer said at a news conference Friday.

Like Cordier, Tykwer sees the story as something that could happen to anyone.

“It’s a strange situation, but a bit banal if you wish, and there are some dramatic moments and extreme events and from this tension stems the comedy,” he said.

Such moments include the unexpected death of Simon’s mother his undergoing emergency surgery. While recovering, Simon meets a nurse with whom he had had a relationship 20 years earlier and who gives him some startling news. Amid all this, regular life, including unexpected love affairs, goes on.

The film reaches a resolution but Tykwer says it’s not aiming “to sell a new idea or a new institution. It’s not about deciding how we should be or in which way we (as a society) should be moving.”

In portraying Hanna, Rois said the question of marriage was also on her mind.

“I wanted to see with what stubbornness we try to stick to the idea of conventional families,” she said.

Tykwer debuted at the Venice film festival with his breakout film, “Run Lola Run” and returned with “The Princess and the Warrior,” his last German language film until “Three.”


Associated Press reporter Colleen Barry contributed to this report from Venice.

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