If there are two types of films that have become a death-and-taxes certainty on the indie film circuit — self-absorbed hustler/drug-runner/gangster retreads and self-absorbed preppy/slacker/”Gen-X” gazings — at least Jeff Terry Anderson’s “Triangle Square” has the good sense to fall into the latter, slightly less tiresome category. Honing in on a gaggle of SoCal twentysomethings contemplating the meaning of their adult lives, pic tries to be a “Big Chill” for a generation of American youth unlikely to live better off than their parents, although it isn’t nearly as spot-on as Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming” at capturing that frustration. But pic exudes lots of natural charm and a slick, studio friendly style.
Pic’s primary pleasure comes from the natural chemistry between fresh-faced newcomers Donny Terranova (who also co-wrote pic and who plays Linc, a struggling writer who returns home for his father’s funeral) and Dawn Cochran (playing Dena, the sister of Linc’s best friend). Notably, Anderson lets the attraction take hold in a subtle, measured way that’s about 180 degrees removed from most cutesy contempo Hollywood romances. Both of these charismatic, engaging thesps are more than up to the challenge of developing an onscreen relationship that doesn’t require the director, editor and composer supplying all the nuance.
When Anderson moves his attention to other matters, “Triangle Square” loses considerable interest. A few funny bits, like Matthew Lillard’s cameo as a stoned skater-type and a recurring gag about Linc’s employment as a columnist at a porno magazine, are more than a bit overextended. And the inevitable, climactic confrontation between Dena and Linc’s possessive ex-girlfriend (Nicole Eggert) is too pat and superficial to have much impact. A bit slight for a full-fledged feature, pic feels like an extended TV pilot. It is not forceful enough in examining the roots of its characters’ lethargy, inaction and fears of not realizing their full potential. The Linc-Dena romance is the one truthful, bittersweet exception.
Unrealized potential aside, pic is a sunny time filler, lensed at attractive Huntington Beach locales close to where Anderson grew up. However, a title change from the current, meaningless moniker is definitely in order.