Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. 100
    Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. All photographed with such visual beauty that watching the movie is like holding your breath so the butterfly won’t stir.
  2. Three Times is great cinema, pop romance that carries a special charge.
  3. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    One of the best films of the year.
  4. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    It's simply one of the most beautiful films he's (Hou Hsiao Hsien) made to date.
  5. The style is pure Hou: richly textured atmosphere, tiptoeing camerawork and long, languorous takes of scenes full of privileged moments of human activity.
  6. Three Times, one of the peaks of his (Hou Hsiao-hsien) career, may be your last chance to see his work inside a movie theater.
  7. 90
    I urge you to see the ineffably beautiful Three Times however you can, lest you go on thinking that Hou's greatness is merely the supposition of obscurantist critics intent on reserving their highest praise for those films that nobody else can actually see.
  8. Finds Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien at his most intimate and romantic. The deceptive simplicity of these vignettes, written by Chu Tien-wen, throws into relief Hou's formidable storytelling strengths and visual acuity - his way with actors, his subtlety and expressiveness.
  9. 88
    Politics in Three Times is as subtle as the stories being told. The film is probably too slow, too silent and too long for most audiences. But look beyond the quietness, and you'll discover a three-gem jewel.
  10. 88
    Another triumph of modesty from a master who deserves real, paying audiences, not just the adoration of besotted film critics.
  11. 80
    In these three potent miniatures, Hou Hsiao-hsien suggests that time passes differently when you're deeply in love. He captures the mystical quality of that time on film, making us feel as if we're living in it, rather than simply watching it.
  12. Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's hypnotically beautiful cinematic trilogy Three Times doesn't just illuminate faces and objects; it seems to fill them up, as if they were lighted from within.
  13. A lyrical, subtle, chaste and nearly wordless romance.
  14. 75
    Anchored by the performance of Shu Qi, who has come a long way from her days as a nudie pin-up. She's a first-rate actress.
  15. Do Hou's films deserve to be seen? Absolutely, if only to end the myth that they're too perfect for this world.
  16. 75
    A sampler of novella-length films set in three different time periods and starring the same two actors, Hou Hsiao-hsien's Three Times resembles one of those delicate trios served at fine restaurants, each a fresh interpretation of a common ingredient.
  17. 70
    My first impression of Three Times was that it was high middling Hou--conceptually bold but unevenly executed. The movie's implicit themes of time travel, eternal recurrence, and the transmigration of souls seemed as muddied by the director's devotion to Shu as they were dissipated in the confusion of the final present-day section. But Three Times improves on a second viewing.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Less accessible than recent "Cafe Lumiere," picture will appeal strongly to fans.
  19. 63
    Features minimal dialogue. It is mostly about mood and images, and it moves at a glacial pace.
  20. Three Times offers a careful examination of the changing ways people have reacted to each other during the past 100 years. As such, it's an interesting essay but certainly a minor work from a master.
  21. The film's trouble is in what happens in each section: not enough. Once the atmosphere of each period is established, the story is too weak to interest--and the characterizations are too thin to compensate.
  22. The first section of Three Times is fabulous; the second is fascinating if remote; and the third a jangly, modernist mess.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 12
  2. Negative: 6 out of 12
  1. LinL
    Jun 13, 2009
    Rereading the critics' comments that initially led me to view this movie, I'm stunned. Though I watch a lot of foreign films and have a high tolerance for subtitles, subtext, and symbolic weirdness, I have to say this is the most boring film I've ever seen. A few nice visuals don't come close to making up for the clueless characters, scant dialogue, and the fact that virtually nothing happens in any of the vignettes. I've never felt such disconnect from the critics, including some of my favorites! Full Review »
  2. janeT
    Apr 9, 2008
    In the 20 years that they've played at festivals, with almost no distribution in the U.S., the films of Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien have evolved from a cult into a conspiracy: Here are movies, say the Hou faithful, so refined and subtle and poetic that the Man won't even let you see them. Three Times is the second Hou film to receive an American release, and as you watch its trio of linked stories, which feature the same two actors (Shu Qi and Chang Chen) romantically entangled in different periods and settings, you can see why his fans revere him Full Review »
  3. HenryV.
    Apr 8, 2007
    An ambitious and practically transcendent piece of filmmaking. It's rare that a director has the intelligence to capture history so poetically, and it's flat out audacious for one to envision a future that is so bleak and hopeless. Full Review »