AWARD THIS! 2023 NOMINEE! I’ve said it many times: bonus points always go to a film that is different and takes huge chances narratively. So let me introduce you to Stacey Maltin and Jay DeYonker’s Triple Threat. It’s the story of three best friends’ journey to producing a Broadway musical.
Our story opens with Maggie (Margarita Zhitnikova) and Chloe (Stacey Maltin) previewing their musical, Firefly, hoping it finds an investor. At the pre-party, the two are under a blanket dreaming about their future. Yet, Chloe’s ambition spells certain doom for her relationship with her boyfriend, Liam (Michael Varamogiannis). Chloe and Liam soon make a new friend named Gus (Jay DeYonker), who instantly bonds with them both. However, he helps solidify the couple’s breakup by engaging in a menage a trois, where Liam feels a little left out.
Meanwhile, Firefly star Griffin (Aramie Payton) is pulling out of the production to pursue a national commercial, which Maggie sees as selling out. Luckily, Chloe spots Gus dancing by himself, post-coitus, and he instantly lands the spot as their new lead. Crazy? We’re just getting started.
Triple Threat picks up months later, as Firefly proves a huge hit during its indie run, and feelers start going out hoping to bring the musical to the Great White Way. Gus announces to Chloe and Maggie that he wants to have a child and considers this the perfect time. He just needs an egg and a surrogate. Maggie volunteers to be the surrogate, and the career-driven Chloe offers the egg under the condition that she is not involved with the child unless it’s on her terms. Now, our story is full-on crazy. Did I mention I like bold storytelling?
“…wants to have a child and considers this the perfect time. He just needs an egg and a surrogate…”
What I like about the film is the relationship dynamics at play between the leads. Their friendship is pushed in truly unexpected directions as each goes on their personal journeys. Gus is so focused on being a parent that his performance in the play starts slipping. Chloe is so intent on success that insecurity sets in when faced with gentle criticism from Broadway investors. Maggie’s partnership with Chloe is tested when Griffin returns, hoping to take back his role from Gus while feeling like a mere incubator for the child.
All the characters of Triple Threat fall along some point of the LGBT spectrum. Gus describes himself as pan-sexual and laments to his ex-boyfriend about his feelings for Chloe. Maggie is in a relationship with lead actress Chiara (Aury Krebs). By bringing this up, representation is put on full display, but attention is never drawn to it. What we have here is a diverse group of friends whose life path sees them hitting on universal themes like putting on a show, having a child, and dealing with the trappings of self-fulfillment and fame.
My only criticism is the acting. The performances felt odd… maybe a little too melodramatic. Well, until I remembered my days hanging out with young, struggling actors. Yeah, the acting reminded me of that. Inside the circle, the interactions felt normal, but looking at the outside, it can feel slightly annoying. DeYonker, Zhitnikova, and Maltin, who all wrote, directed, and produced, and gave fantastic performances. All three understood their characters and what was needed to pull them off.
Also, it should be noted that this is a partial musical. I’ll be honest. Listening to music in indie films can be cringey at times. Thankfully, the songs here are fantastic. They have something to say and contain good melodies (any prerequisite for a song). While no one breaks into song haphazardly, the singing is done in the context of the play within the film.
For me, the out-of-the-box nature of the story is what intrigued me most about Triple Threat. For anyone looking for a film that’s fun and provocative, this is a must-see.
For screening information, visit the Triple Threat official website. Triple Threat is a 2023 Award This! LGBT nominee.
"…fun and provocative..."