Stills of "3 Needles"
(Courtesy from Archer Entertainment)
Drama Director: Thom Fitzgerald Starring: Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Chloe Sevigny,
Shawn Ashmore, Stockard Channing RunTime: 2 hrs 9 mins Released By: Archer Entertainment APPL &
GV Rating: M18 (Mature Theme) Website: www.archerentasia.com/3needles
Date: 1 December 2006
South Africa, a nun risks all, including her salvation, to
help the helpless. In China, a father unwittingly gives away
his most precious possession for a few pieces of silver. In
North America, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice to ensure
her son spends his remaining days in comfort.
NEEDLES features a compelling international cast, including
Lucy Liu (Kill Bill; Ally MacBeal), Sandra Oh (Sideways, Grey's
Anatomy), Chloe Sevigny (Dogville, Broken Flowers), Shawn
Ashmore (X-Men: The Last Stand), Stockard Channing (The West
Wing); also featuring Singaporean actor, Ng Chin Han.
opening in various countries on December 1st (World AIDS Day),
“3 Needles” is once indie-darling Thom Fitzgerald’s
ode to the unheard voices of those affected by the disease,
spanning the furthest recesses of the world to the vibrant,
cosmopolitan cities we live in. A loose interconnection within
its 3 vignettes holds together its admirably ambitious scope
but falters in its execution of the worlds-apart narrative
that feels forced and histrionic more often than it should.
performances from (arguably) the leads in Chloe Sevigny and
Lucy Liu make their segments stronger than it really is and
gives the film much needed credence in the face of implausibly
heavy-handed storytelling. From the enigmatic opening of a
coming-of-age tribal ritual to a church in Montreal, a foreboding
and often suffocating atmosphere drapes the rest of the film.
And while dense and convoluted, it sputters along its 2-hour
runtime by clumsily crosscutting between its segments with
only Olympia Dukakis’s unevenly toned and ominous narration
serving to alternate between observations, presages, and teasingly
fills in the ellipses in the unfocused narrative.
most pervasive of its stories, Sevigny is a novice nun sent
to a coastal African settlement to bring them to God. By far
the film’s most ruthless segment, she not only faces
a daunting crisis that the disease causes but the indifference
of the scarce Western influence in the face of ludicrous tribal
superstitions and the culture barriers that stand between
humanitarian efforts. The rest of its stories include Liu
playing a heavily pregnant blood-collector that goes on a
guilt trip when she realises her part in a village’s
epidemic and Shawn Ashmore as a porn-actor in Montreal who
does the unthinkable to survive in an urban jungle. And soon
after desperation is bargaining and each of its trio of stories
has its characters in bad situations making worse decisions.
They sell their souls for glimmers of false hope that lead
to a nun losing sight of her faith, a family destroyed and
a mother’s sacrifice.
underrated and disfigured by its own director’s cuts
and edits, Ashmore’s enveloping scenario in downtown
Montreal is different and more relatable in its scope of a
life-ending disease than it is compared to the rural simplicity
of life in large parts of Africa and China. It zooms into
the microcosm of suffering by a family (that includes the
ever reliable Stockard Channing) that suddenly has to deal
with a spectre of AIDS compared with the other scenarios that
just constantly struggle to carry the weight of the world
on its shoulders. And while brazenly manipulating emotions
as its trolls from one mishap to another, it seems so determined
to recount the worst of true-life sob stories from the world
that it ends up leaving one cold and unnerved in its impotent
does not get a mention in this morality tale but its umbrella-term
of the disease is ostensibly the backdrop of its characters’
deep regrets and indolent denials of realities. Fitzgerald
(from his well-received debut, “The Hanging Garden”
and oddly humourous docudrama, “Beefcake) is by no means
an inept director, but seems hampered and frustrated by his
own inability to achieve his goals with his sprawling parables.
He eventually resorts to posturing within the film’s
very excellent production values and very admirable efforts
in handling the subject matter.
vivid production values, and great performances level the
film’s misguided attempts at tragic storytelling)