Several loosely connected stories play out in this ensemble drama written and directed by Paul Haggis, and yes, similarities to Haggis’ big hit Crash are rife. There’s the slate of big male stars, including Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody and James Franco, buttressed by pretty women (Olivia Wilde, Moran Atias, Mila Kunis) and a pair of respectable older actresses (Maria Bello, Kim Basinger). Plus, there’s an occasionally confusing plot, told in a choppy fashion, where each individual story informs on the others.
In fact, I’ll admit: At the end, I wasn’t exactly sure whether I’d seen one story, with extra-narrative embellishments, or several unique stories. I think it was the former, because the main character (portrayed by Neeson) is a writer (hint, hint), struggling to make sense of his messy life and whether to seek much-needed inspiration from it. In any case, there are broken marriages, affairs, weird bits of sexual subterfuge and, most critically, parents who are in various states of crisis over a child. Most of it takes place in nice hotels in Rome, Paris and New York, where all the problems of movie people tend to play out. Check in if you like, but it may feel like that same room of troubles you’ve stayed in before.