Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Liam Hemsworth, Melissa George, Rachael Carpani, Emma Lung
Directed by Christopher Smith
This year’s Film4 Frightfest played host to the World Premiere of Christopher Smith’s highly anticipated new film, Triangle. Heavily touted as the director’s most mature work – which it is – it is also, unfortunately, not so much a tsunami of terror as it is a damp squib at times.
The plot concerns our heroine, Jess (Melissa George), embarking on a boat ride with the romantically hopeful Greg (Michael Dorman) and his friends. Jess appears upset and confused from the get-go, a trait supposedly brought on by the stresses of caring for her heavily autistic son. After some sailing, a freak storm sees their ship scuppered and the group floating blindly on the wreckage.
From out of nowhere approaches a huge cruise ship – the SS Aeolus. Assuming rescue, the group board only to find the ship deserted. Jess, however, catches glimpses of a strange figure and soon the bodies begin piling up. From there, the film becomes a mind-bending time-twister (watch the trailer if you want to spoil the first twist for yourself. It doesn’t have much effect on your enjoyment of the film, though) with Jess finding herself caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle and discovering that the resolution, if there even is one, may not be found in breaking it, but letting it continue.
As mentioned earlier, Triangle is certainly Smith’s most technically mature work yet – his direction is spot on (eschewing the humour that laced his previous outings), and the script and visuals maintain a suffocating, somber tone. While everything seems like a recipe for success, Triangle unfortunately falls short in the story itself. The whole thing is a cyclical tale, and while Melissa George’s performance could be referred to as “haunting” or any other variation of the word, her character is quite simply irritating and vastly inaccessible from the beginning of the film. This is not a good thing for your protagonist to be. Don’t get me wrong – George gives a fantastic performance during the middle section of the film, but we’re never truly allowed in there…she is almost constantly aloof, borderline neurotic, and all we understand is that she loves her son. No amount of looking forlorn helps that.
Triangle also falls foul of thinking it is much smarter than it actually is, and thus expecting to get away with things in the hope that the audience simply won’t understand it (and thus will accept it due to the entire work being a mind-bender), or won’t question it. The truth is, it isn’t entirely that difficult to understand – and thus quite easy to pick apart. Some pretty large plot holes exist, and the finale (as visually impressive as it is), includes one of the most ridiculous, unbelievable occurrences I’ve ever been force fed.
*******SPOILERS FOR THIS ARE BELOW*******
After the original “version” of Jess we’ve been following, and her son, are killed in a car accident, she reappears at the roadside next to it with the whole cycle ready to begin again. A man stands behind her and simply asks if she needs a ride. “I’m just a driver”, he says, and repeats his question – there is no inclination whether this man is supposed to be symbolic of death or another figure (bearing in mind that nothing in the film has been purely symbolic up until this point besides perhaps a fleeting attempt to tie proceedings in with, I believe, Greek mythology), and why he randomly asks a woman if she needs a ride….especially when the exact same woman is lying dead on the pavement for all to see not 10 feet away. This is only one example that stretches the limits of acceptability. That’s not counting the fact that the crashed car ALSO has a dead Jess in the trunk. So, we have two of the same woman lying dead in the road, with a third standing next to the accident, and nobody notices. In fact, a random taxi driver just asks her if she needs to go somewhere.
Director Smith did mention during a Q&A session that the movie was supposed to be a reflection of the “deal with death” nature of the story of Sisyphus, but wasn’t sure if that had been successful or clear enough. The answer is…it wasn’t.
While it starts strongly, Triangle really starts to wear thin and test the patience as the story continues – when you’re seeing the exact same actions occur on screen for the third or fourth time (after her initial tries, Jess doesn’t bother trying to actually change things – good in theory but woefully unexciting in practice) it begins to feel like padding. The violence is sporadic and extremely well done – I don’t think I’ve ever heard more effective gunshots in a film, but those looking for a gorefest should head elsewhere.
I’m sure many a reader will strongly disagree with my take on the film as it did seem to have garnered a buzz at the fest (though from what I heard, said buzz seemed to be people attempting to cover up the plot holes, and failing – a kind of futile positivity), but while I really did want to like it I ultimately became bored and disinterested. If you’re a fan of Christopher Smith’s previous work and want to see his cinematic maturation, it’s definitely worth seeing Triangle as it certainly isn’t a complete loss. If it floats your boat, great (if you thought TimeCrimes was amazing, I think you’ll dig the hell out of Triangle). Unfortunately, for this reviewer it’s a sinker.
2 1/2 out of 5
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