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Directed by Hal Hartley
Running time 85 minutes
Hal Hartley's film school pretensions wear exceptionally thin in this thrice-told tale It is in effect the same story about an incorrigible flirt who must decide whether or not to commit to a current lover, told three times and realized with the same mannered dialogue, but set amongst different characters, in different places and at different times.
Whilst this conceit has a certain appeal, Hartley's general inability to do anything with it other than tickle up the production design for each chapter means that each version is less interesting than the one before it (and the only bits which are interesting, which involve a group of men in a lavatory in the first story and a trio of workers in the second, are not part of the reiterated pattern). The process of degeneration is consistent from story to story but by the time we get to the Tokyo version which opens with an experimental dance piece and features a spunky Japanese power-pop girl (Miho Nikaido, who is Hartley's wife) whose boyfriend is a film-maker (who is Hal Hartley) we are so smothered in pointless contrivance and self-conscious self-reflexivity that only the most stoical will be able to keep their seats or the pretentious would want to.
FYI: Flirt was initially only the first, New York-set segment and when Hartley received funding to make a feature the additional chapters were tacked on. Lacking a core, unifying concept such as Jim Jarmsuch’s tri-partite Midnight Train (1989) it is little surprise that the film progressively wears out its welcome.