Originally published Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Movie review

'3': A love triangle directed by the hand of fate

Tom Tykwer, writer-director of 1998's innovative German hit "Run Lola Run," stumbled a bit with 2006's "Perfume," but he's back in good form with "3," a daring tale of a bisexual triangle.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'3,' with Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schipper, Devid Striesow. Written and directed by Tom Tykwer. 116 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In German, with English subtitles. Uptown.

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Tom Tykwer, writer-director of 1998's innovative German hit "Run Lola Run," stumbled a bit with 2006's overblown "Perfume" and other films, but he's back in good form with this daring tale of a bisexual triangle.

In the words of one character, "3" offers "a farewell to a deterministic understanding of biology." Apparently that's the reason why three 40-ish adults, recently reminded of their mortality, behave pretty much as they'd like to behave.

Sophie Rois plays Hanna, a Berlin doctor and television personality who suffers from a 20-year itch her longtime lover, Simon (Sebastian Schipper), can't satisfy. By chance, she meets and finds herself attracted to a stem-cell-research scientist, Adam (Devid Striesow, so good as the slippery Nazi officer in the Oscar- winning "Counterfeiters").

Angela Winkler has a small but key role as a cancer patient whose illness helps to set the plot in motion. David Bowie's "Space Oddity," which turns up a couple of times on the soundtrack with its insistence that "this is ground control," seems to provide purring approval.

Tykwer's script is structured so that the audience knows more about the characters' connections than they do. As each faces a midlife crisis/turning point, fate sometimes appears to be calling the shots.

Rois plays Hanna as the most agitated member of the trio. Striesow projects a calming influence as Adam. It makes sense that both Hanna and Simon would be attracted to his worldly nature. At the same time, the actors playfully suggest that nothing's set in stone.

Simultaneously tentative and assured, the ending of "3" won't answer any questions about where this threesome is headed. Tykwer seems as surprised by their reactions as the people he's created.

John Hartl:

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