On paper the prospect of three internationally feted directors each contributing to a trilogy of half hour films about erotic love might seem an enticing prospect, but this portmanteau project veers from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Wong Kar-wai, in fetishistic In the Mood for Love vein, is responsible for the most satisfying segment. Set in nocturnal 1960s Hong Kong, it’s a gorgeously shot and designed study of the sensually charged working relationship between a courtesan (Gong Li) and her tailor (Chang Chen). Soderbergh’s contribution concerns a stressed 1950s New York advertising executive (Robert Downey Jr), who’s relating a recurring dream to his strangely distracted analyst (Alan Arkin): it boasts sharp performances, some striking monochrome cinematography, and a playful capacity to shift between ‘reality’ and fantasy. You might want to leave the cinema at this point, because the nonagenarian Michelangelo Antonioni’s concluding tale of a bourgeois couple’s break-up is excruciatingly embarrassing, with its pretentious, badly dubbed dialogue and soft-core focus on nubile female flesh.