Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movie Review: Triangle (by Dave Machado)

Watching a great movie can be a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. A movie typically begins by giving you the basic setup of the story, which is fairly easy to understand. I consider this the "outline" portion of the puzzle, the part everyone always starts with so you can begin to see what exactly you are working with. The complexity of the movie from that point on determines the size of the puzzle pieces that the viewer is left to put together. There are always movies with big pieces for viewers who don't want to do much leg work. Fortunately, there are also movies like Triangle that know certain viewers enjoy a challenge and therefore give them lots of little pieces to work with. Like any big puzzle, you may be frustrated while you attempt to put it all together, but once things fall into place and you take a step back, you really start to appreciate the challenge it put forth.

I won't go too deep into the plot of Triangle because giving you answers (or even clues) as to what the movie is really about would be like turning the jigsaw puzzle into a childish paint by numbers.  Sure the end result could still look the same, but half the enjoyment comes from your own discovery. What I can say is that it is a thriller that focuses on a small group of people who get caught in a severe storm while relaxing out at sea. Their boat capsizes and after spending a while floating in the sea, a giant ocean liner appears seemingly out of nowhere. They board the ship which seems to be eerily quiet and empty except for a few passing shadows and sounds. What's the dark secret of the boat? I'll let you find that out for yourself. 

Lots of movies attempt to unravel a sprawling mystery but end up having at least one small plot hole that can't be explained. To go back to the jigsaw metaphor, it would be like completing a large, beautiful puzzle only to realize there is a small missing piece. Sure the final result is impressive, but whenever you or someone else looks at it, their eyes will go directly to the missing piece. Luckily, Triangle does not have any missing pieces. I was both surprised and impressed at how well everything fit together. It took some re-watching of key scenes after I initially finished the movie to fully understand it, but once I did, it made the movie that much more enjoyable. All the answers are right up there on the screen, it's simply left up to the viewer to put them all together.

That's not to say Triangle is a perfect movie because it's not. But for a small thriller, it has an incredibly tight story and some amazingly haunting visuals that will stay with me for a long time. Director Christopher Smith has an excellent visual style and the movie is surprisingly beautiful at times. I was a fan of his previous horror movie Severance and was happy to see how much range he showed this time around. Severance had a very unique wit (though very dark) that I was happy to see mostly missing from this movie. Triangle is a more serious effort and he luckily didn't feel the need to inject any silly gags that would break the tension. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Severance because the humor worked in the universe he set up for that film. Actually, if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you check it out. It features my favorite rocket launcher gag of all time.

Triangle is also helped by a fairly impressive (and mostly unknown) cast. The movie is anchored by the role of Jess (Melissa George).  Melissa does a fantastic job with such a complicated character and really adds a lot to the role that could have easily been too "schticky." The rest of the cast does a good job for the most part but since the movie really belongs to the character Jess, most are never given enough to do and therefore become fairly one-note characters. I would have liked to see more complex supporting characters but like I said, Melissa does such a fine job pulling her weight around on screen that it simply makes everyone else seem more 1 dimensional.

The movie goes a little too heavy on symbolism at times but I can forgive it because it's never so bad that it ruins the movie. This is simply a pet peeve of mine and will most likely not even be an issue for most viewers. Other than those few nitpicks, I was highly impressed with Triangle. It's the type of movie that surprises me how little of a following it has. I hope more people check it out in the years to come because it accomplishes a lot for such a small film. I understand it may be too "confusing" for some but as I said before, the answers are right there on the screen. You just need to take the time to put it together yourself. For those willingly to try out this puzzle, you'll be extremely happy with the end result.

You're Welcome,

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