Played to the musician Ben Harper’s mellifluous instrumental, “Number Three”, “The Three of Us” is a visually impressive experiment in stop and go motion. In many ways, this movie bears a resemblance to the stop motion videos the band Tool used to put out. Besides being less figuratively dark than those videos, “The Three of Us” also sets itself apart through the use of go motion. Go motion is the technique of moving a camera around an object rather than moving an object for the camera. Used most notably in the early “Star Wars” movies to add realism and motion to the space ships, the effect here is a palpable sense of depth and dimension.
The problem with this movie is that it also plays out like a Tool video. Lacking in a story structure, it follows a strange creature who walks on four arms and has a head on either side of its body. While Ben Harper strums along in the background, this creature chases after an ever morphing ball and other ponderous objects such as a mirror and a dandelion full of seeds ready to blow away. Particularly heavy handed and ambiguous is a thyme spice box that appears throughout the film.
The filmmakers Nirvan Mullick and Benjamin Goldman began this project in 1999 as a film school side project. A mere four years later and they’re done. But what do you expect? Stop motion takes time and anything of this caliber can’t just be cranked out. If you don’t believe me, try it some time.
Second only in visual quality to Mullick’s “The Box Man”, this film is breathtaking to behold. If only the filmmakers had brought in a writer to add some substance, then they would have really been on to something.