Hartley's jeu d'esprit starts from an intriguing premise: the same script is delivered three times, by three different casts, thus allowing local cultural differences and the viewer's cumulative knowledge to influence various shifts in tone and treatment. Shot first as a stand alone short, 'New York, February 1993' brings the tart romantic confusions familiar from the director's earlier work, as Bill Sage gives himself 90 minutes to decide if his future lies with partner Posey, and has his decision shaped by barfly Donovan's suicidal response to rejection by Sage's other lover. In 'Berlin, October 1994' black American Dwight Ewell hesitates over his affair with art dealer Bender, and a chorus of refreshingly straightforward workmen explain the film's self-reflexive strategies. 'Tokyo, March 1995' sets down with butoh performer Nikaido (Hartley's off-screen wife) and visiting American film-maker 'Hal', played with quizzical self-consciousness by the writer/director himself. Although the aphoristic dialogue and sly wit are by now a given, the structure allows Hartley to jettison more and more of the narrative exposition as he goes along, creating a Godardian sense of playfulness and also renewing the director's interest in purely choreographic nuance.
Cast and crew