Tom Tykwer’s 3 will make your brain horny.

Let's begin with the essence of this film: Two Berlin cultural workers, Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper), fall in love with a scientist (Devid Striesow), and in the process are transformed into the family of the future, the post-Freudian family, the family that has a new set of problems and values. This family doesn't care if you are gay or straight. Sex is just sex. This family is also thoroughly cosmopolitan and grounded by an urban/rational ethic that has naturalized public transportation, high-density environments, and the consumption of quality art, foods, and entertainment. Stephen J. Gould is the saint of this family.

Now recall how Tree of Life was about a sensitive boy dealing with his harsh father. The director of that awful film, Terrence Malick, only took us back into the cave of the Oedipal complex. Malick clearly thought that this muddy and emotional complex is the final meaning of human life. 3, directed by Tom Tykwer—he also directed Run Lola Run and The International—has none of this mythical nonsense. Tykwer knows, as the great dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson put it, "this is the age of reality, this is the age of science and [bio]technology." The problem for humans, then, is how to create or invent relationships that reflect our current, scientific reality.

The film opens with a dance. First, two people are dancing (twirling, leaping, skipping). Next, they are joined by a third, mysterious person. The first two dancers are initially thrown into confusion. Who is this person? Is this a good thing? How will it end? As you can well see, this opening dance pre-plays the film's plot: A couple is going happily along through life, the couple meets a third person, the third person throws them into confusion; the couple must either break up or embrace the new situation and move forward. How will it end?

Hanna and Simon, the couple, are forty-something. They have been dating since their early 20s, have no children, have great jobs (she is a minor celebrity, a culture reporter; he is a set and installation designer), and share a great apartment (books, paintings, photographs) in a great city (the capital of Germany). The scientist, Adam, is also in his 40s, works for a biotech company, was once married, has a young son who lives in the suburbs, travels by motorbike, plays soccer, sings in a choir, lives in a spare apartment, and regularly swims in an indoor floating swimming pool on the river Spree.

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Two things about this swimming pool: First, it is where Simon (who is straight) first meets Adam (who is mostly gay—he has a male lover at the lab). They are in the men's locker room. Some small talk leads to Adam giving Simon a handjob. Simon comes. Simon goes home. Simon can't get Adam out of his mind. (His girlfriend, Hanna, has already met Adam, at a biotech conference, where she pursued him.) Second, the futuristic swimming pool, called Winter Badeschiff and designed by Susanne Lorenz, is for 3 what Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is for Tykwer's The International. Both are the intersections of cinema and architecture, and as such express the architectural nature of Tykwer's filmmaking. Tykwer's movies are built with a strong sense of space and structure. When we enter the indoor swimming pool in 3, we enter a film within a film, a building within a building.

Run Lola Run is Tykwer's most celebrated film, The International is his most expensive film, and 3 is his best film to date. recommended