Dir/scr: Thom Fitzgerald.Can. 2005. 123mins.
A film with sweeping emotional heft and extensive geographical remit - fromSouth Africa to China and Montreal via three separate AIDS-themed stories -Thom Fitzgerald's 3 Needles ultimately falls victim to its own ambition.
While it conveys enormoussympathy to both subject and locations shoots it is likely to be a tough sell,both domestically and overseas. Genuine interest is likely to be dampened bythe sprawl of the framework, and while the force of its cast - headlined by Liuand Channing - is strong, none are particular box office draws. There's alsothe none-too-small challenge of believing Sevigny, Oh and Dukakis as a trio ofmissionary nuns.
Arthouse and festivalprogramming is a more likely option, and 3 Needles' international perspectivemay see it score a small following globally. It should do decent business onancillary.
Thom Fitzgerald cancertainly not be faulted on his vision. All three stories are worthy ofindividual films and the situations they present have been meticulouslyresearched.
But just like the desperatesituations it portrays, 3 Needles becomes too much for the audience to absorbin one sitting as they are confronted not just with the internationaldevastation of the AIDS plague but also Fitzgerald's tendency to teeter overthe edge and into melodrama.
Packing each narrativetogether into one fractured whole also requires considerable forbearance, andthe stories themselves feel cheated by the truncated way they're presented.
The actors too - all strongpresences on screen in their own right - are individually laudable but togetherthreaten to overpower the fragile narrative thread.
Thomas M Harting