26 April 2010
Before I move into brief but SPOILER heavy territory, let me sum this up by saying: Triangle is a clever-as-hell premise that happens to a bunch of flat, uninteresting characters.
The Möbius nature of the story is concise, and as far as I can tell tight -- though the last half should have moved quicker, since we knew every beat by watching it already during the first half. (A very specific note: I wanted so bad for the film to cut to black when Jess says to the mysteriously cold-hearted and helpful cabdriver "Take me to the harbor." Why oh why did we have to watch the next ten minutes of tension-deflating recap?) The references throughout to Aeolus and Sisyphus were nice because, honestly, I didn't expect them to be so spot-on. I actually didn't see the thematic resonance coming, which is clever. But "clever," this movie has by the bucketful. What it lacks, as I mentioned above, is character.
Unfortunately, it's also a pretty blatant retelling of Timecrimes, another hyper-clever flat-character-inhabited story about closed loops and grandfather paradoxes. Where Timecrimes is straight head-scratching and mind-games, Triangle aims for horror, but it's only achieves "tense," never "scary," and even that lasts a mere thirty minutes before giving way back to the head-scratching and mind-games of its forefather. I've got to give some credit to Triangle though, for taking its ideas to their furthest conclusions, and continually one-upping its own premise to the very end. All that's nicely handled, with several reasonably creepy moments/ideas throughout. (The "pile of things leftover from the infinite loop" trope never felt old, and topped out for creep-factor in the deck full of brutalized, dead Sallys.) If only anybody in the movie had reacted to any of the clever mess in believable ways, or if only they could speak like humans speak. For me what kept me from loving an obviously smart script was its cardboard, throwaway characterizations and forced, artificial-sounding dialogue.
Not terrible, though. Just, alas, not very scary. And despite the ratcheted-up ideas and dark imagery, I think I like Timecrimes a little more not despite but because of its simplicity.
Trivia of note: Jess was played by Melissa George, whom I failed to recognize despite playing the real Camilla Rhodes in Mulholland Dr.