Watching Three Times I was struck by how freeing the structure was for the viewer. Rather than straining to follow continuity across the three stories, I found myself drifting into a deeper understanding of the film’s central relationship, with a clearer understanding of how societal norms play a large role in the performance and presentation of love.
- Barry Jenkins on Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Three Times
The structure of Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s beautiful romantic triptych gave Barry Jenkins his answer to a dense riddle of how to unpack Tarell McCraney’s novel, meld it with his own voice, and present what ultimately would become the Oscar® winning film Moonlight to an audience.
In Three Times, the intricacies of courtship and companionship are navigated in three separate segments, set respectively in 1966, 1911, and 2005, as three incredible love stories unfold under three different periods of Taiwanese history and governance. Following three young couples, portrayed by the same pair of actors against the different time periods, a sense of formal daring and serene mystery lie at the heart of this wonderful, breathtaking film by Hou Hsiao-hsien (The Assassin).
Three Times shows (just like Moonlight) how fate keeps us coming back to the same people time and time again. While both pictures contain some of the most romantic and erotic moments ever captured on film, Jenkins and Hou each demonstrate that romance is often about the things left unsaid and the subtlest of physical intimacies.