“When something cuts so deep, he reaches for a comforting cliche”, is a remark uttered by Olivia Wilde’s Anna when she confronts her boyfriend, and writer Michael (Liam Neeson). Though in a different context, this one line seems somewhat representative of the man who wrote it, as director Paul Haggis – behind the innovative and gripping drama Crash, which certainly did cut deep, now offers a predictable, hackneyed and ultimately cliched romantic flick Third Person.

The aforementioned couple make up just a third of this ensemble piece, as we move between the tumultuous pairing on their romantic retreat in Paris, to a somewhat less prosperous trip for Adrien Brody’s Scott, who falls for the beguiling stranger Monika (Moran Atias) in a bar, before becoming perilously embroiled in her desperate attempts to retrieve her daughter from a nefarious gangster. Then we head to New York City to meet Julia (Mila Kunis) who is also on a mission to win back her child, taking on a new job as a hotel maid to prove to her ex-partner Rick (James Franco) that she can be a mother to their son.

All three conflicting narratives get somewhat more intriguing at around the same time, though it’s hard work reaching that point without losing hope in the filmmaker. The slow-burning opening act is tedious at times, while the respective tales are contrived and frustratingly coincidental. So while the final act has the potential to compel and engross, the problem is, by the time we reach the latter stages we simply don’t care enough for the protagonists nor their situation. If anything, we become anxious that the film will never end -as a picture that needlessly approaches the two hour and a half mark.

You would then hope that by way of a mere saving grace, at least the locations will be enchanting and decorate the narrative – and yet despite taking place in three of the most beautiful cities in the world, we don’t get a sense for the environment or the respective nation’s sensibilities at all. Rather than get a feel for the setting at hand and the atmosphere and essence that exists, instead we are just treated to obvious shots of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building.

While all of our characters are engulfed in their own, respective issues, each emotionally charged – when we reach our finale you can’t help but feel somewhat detached and uninvolved in this title. Thinking it’s a lot cleverer than it actually is, Third Person is a rather apt title, as that’s how we feel; never a part of the action, just peering in from the outside.