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Three Lives and Only One Death

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THREE LIVES AND ONLY ONE DEATH Marcello Mastroianni, Marisa Paredes (1996, New Yorker, unrated, $89.95, subtitled) Chilean director Raoul Ruiz’s peculiar, surrealistic brand of gamesmanship is very clever, but it’s also merely clever, featuring neither the fetishistic splendor of Peter Greenaway’s obsessive puzzles nor the emotional anguish of Atom Egoyan’s oblique narrative labyrinths. In one of his final screen turns, Mastroianni plays four characters, in four almost separate yarns, who are gradually revealed to be the same man. Though it’s fun to watch the stories converge and to track the various connections, the end result is disappointingly empty: two hours and only one shtick. C+