Three Lives and Only One Death

on October 11, 1996 by Ed Scheid
  &#160A man returns to his wife after a 20-year absence. A rich professor lives as a tramp. A businessman discovers that the family he has invented for business reasons is planning to visit. All three parts are played by the late Marcello Mastroianni with playful charm; he also portrays a butler on an estate that is unexpectedly inherited by an impoverished young couple (Marcello's daughter Chiara Mastroianni and Melvil Poupaud). Eventually, all of Marcello's characters turn out to be the same man.
  &#160Mastroianni is supported by a top cast that includes Marisa Paredes ("The Flower of My Secret") as the wife with the missing husband, and Anna Galiena ("The Hairdresser's Husband") as a sexy callgirl revealed to be a business executive. In the imaginative screenplay, characters continually acquire new identities, and the cast makes "Three Lives and Only One Death" enjoyable. But the characters calmly accept every outrageous event--even an ax to the head--so the film fatally lacks tension and believability. Starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anna Galiena. Directed by Raoul Ruiz. Written by Raoul Ruiz and Pascal Bonitzer. Produced by Paulo Branco. A New Yorker release. Comedy. French-language; English subtitles. Unrated. Running time: 123 min. Screened at the Montreal fest.
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