Paul Haggis crashes into a new love

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No Academy Award best picture in recent years has been as polarizing as Paul Haggis’ ‘Crash.’ The interlocking stories of a diverse group of Southern Californians was a blazingly honest exploration of race, if you were a fan -- or a schmaltzed-up melodrama, if you weren’t.

We can only imagine the reaction to the filmmaker’s next project.

When we caught up with Haggis this week about his forthcoming release, the Russell Crowe prison-break thriller ‘The Next Three Days’ (which hits theaters Nov. 12), Haggis tipped that the current object of his attention was a heretofore unreported script he’s writing titled ‘Third Person.’ The movie is an ensemble drama about three couples around the globe -- think ‘Crash,’ but with romance instead of race. (One of the characters is a writer, hence the title.)


The idea, Haggis said, is to do a serious story about modern relationships set against scenic locales (New York and Rome are two of them) and to develop each character as much as possible -- which is why he is keeping the plotlines to three instead of the roughly half-dozen in ‘Crash.’ Haggis said he hasn’t taken it to a studio yet, hoping that, as with ‘Crash,’ he’ll get the best results if he works solo. (He took a similar approach, and had an equal mount of artistic freedom, in developing his well-regarded Iraq mystery-drama ‘In the Valley of Elah.’)

When we mentioned to Haggis that his new idea seemed to fit a current Hollywood vogue for an ensemble romance -- the kind seen in movies such as ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ -- he replied, ‘Yes, it’s a little like those. But darker. Much, much darker.’

--Steven Zeitchik