Lisa Schwarzbaum
January 29, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Trilogy

Current Status
In Season
Limited Release Date
Lucas Belvaux, Dominique Blanc, Catherine Frot, Gilbert Melki, Ornella Muti
Lucas Belvaux
Lucas Belvaux
Comedy, Romance, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A-

Belgian writer-director Lucas Belvaux’s clever and engrossing trio of parallel films, collectively known by the hushed title The Trilogy, is as much a feat of diagramming as it is of drama. The three different stories, to be released sequentially over the next couple of weeks, are presented in three different styles — thriller, romantic comedy, and melodrama — but the plots unspool simultaneously. The main characters in one appear as minor characters in the others. Each film stands satisfyingly on its own as a genre piece, but the triplex provides added understanding of character and consequence. Some people solve crossword puzzles to achieve elegant down-and-across satisfaction like this.

”On the Run,” the first film, sets the machinery up on a taut noir note. Belvaux himself plays Bruno, a far-left revolutionary escaped from prison and trying to evade capture; shadows are as crucial as light. The second, ”An Amazing Couple,” about a hypochondriac and his schoolteacher wife (Ornella Muti) who thinks he’s carrying on an affair, luxuriates in fluidity and color. ”After the Life,” the third, pulls in tight on a cop and his drug-addicted wife. Genre-hoppers like Steven Soderbergh ought to love this neat triple doozy.

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