There Is No I in Threesome
Entertainment

Review: There Is No I in Threesome By Jan Oliver Lucks

A couple’s polyamorous Rumspringa before tying the knot is only the jumping-off point for the new HBO Max meta-documentary There Is No I in Threesome. Director Jan Oliver Lucks, who goes by Ollie, and his actress-fiancée, Zoe, are an attractive, creative, 30-ish pair living in a vintage camper in a small New Zealand town when they aren’t in a long-distance relationship because of their respective jobs. Opening up that relationship gives Ollie opportunities to make up for a wasted youth and further explore his attraction to other men. But it’s Zoe who reaps most of the benefits of their arrangement, hooking up often with men and women, especially when she travels to the city to meet new people and find other artists.

At the start of his film, Ollie tells us the preordained ending of their story, which all but guarantees it won’t come true. At this juncture, though, with the wedding still several months away, he believes he and Zoe will return to monogamy once they get hitched and their priority becomes the children they plan to have. But that’s before Ollie meets Siobhan, his new girlfriend, and more importantly, before Zoe meets Tom — a romance that, according to one of her friends, makes Zoe “glow.”

For a doc with such a gimmicky premise, Threesome is refreshingly free of heteronormative hangups. Ollie and Zoe feel pangs of jealousy, but they’re more likely to have love with the object of their envy than stew in repressed resentment. And it turns out that the third entity in the central couple’s relationship isn’t really Tom, but Ollie’s camera, a shield he hides behind to avoid vulnerability and being in the moment, as well as an (imagined) audience that he and Zoe are performing their relationship for — and by which they feel increasingly trapped.

Early in Threesome, Ollie and Zoe note that their film is shot entirely on phones. But you don’t need that little hint from Lucks to pay close attention to which images are selected for the film and whose perspective they represent. The opening scene shows the pair taking all of their clothes off as they prepare to dive off the highest of several platforms into a pool, and the rest of the film is similarly exhibitionistic, including an incident in which Ollie lies naked in a bathtub, his hands not fully covering his genitals, receiving a homemade enema. (In a voiceover, Ollie calls Threesome a “selfie film.”) The pair’s physical affection, carried out with a phone always just an arm’s length away, is occasionally punctured by Zoe’s self-conscious questions about whether, say, he’s kissing her at a certain angle not because it feels good, but because it looks good on camera.

For reasons that become clear in its final minutes, the documentary’s core relationship gradually becomes that between the director and his camera. In those final scenes, Threesome asks the audience to reevaluate all those moments of gooey intimacy; the uncomfortable FaceTimes between Ollie, Zoe and sometimes Tom; even all the pans of New Zealand’s natural majesty captured by Lucks’ GoPro on hikes. What seems transparent isn’t. What seems truthful, well, documentarians are usually the first to admit that their films represent only one version of the truth.

Threesome should be watched as spoiler-free as possible, so if you want to go in relatively cold, I recommend you stop reading now. But since this is a review, I’d be remiss in failing to note the charisma, naturalism and go-for-brokeness of Natalie Medlock, the actress that Lucks eventually hires to play “Zoe” in the doc’s recreations of his relationship with the real Zoe. (Medlock becomes such an important collaborator that she is credited as one of the film’s co-writers, alongside producer Alex Reed.) All this plays out not as some gotcha game, but as a cerebral yet soul-searching tribute to a relationship that might have been too crowded long before it was opened up.

Ella Smith has been a brilliant writer and her writing is impressive. She often writes for Educational and motivational topics that is a great point in her. She has started writing for Brightshub for a couple of months.