I recently saw “Triptych” by Rossana Jeran and must admit I was extremely impressed by this radically low budget film that cost a mere $500.00 to make. Like many filmmakers, I tend to watch movies with a critical eye, ready to pounce on any technical-flaws, writing inconsistencies and acting problems. As a result, I am pretty much ostracized by more normal members of society and can only attend the theater with other filmmakers or similarly minded actors. Shockingly, I could find very little to upset me about “Triptych”—maybe a synchronization lapse every so often, but that’s about it. Unbelievable!
At first glance, “Triptych” appears to be a typical love triangle—Sara loves Stan, Raven loves Stan and someone’s bound to be hurt. However, lurking beneath this seemingly mundane saga about aspiring actors and artists, lies a force to be reckoned with and that force is Jeran herself. It is she who gently lures us into disturbing realities and she who compels us to see.
In the opening silent scene, we watch a beautiful still-photographer seductively shoot a male model posing on an apartment room floor. We assume the apartment belongs to the photographer we later know as Raven. Clad in an open shirt and nothing else, Raven bears her camera like a weapon. Moving with the grace of a dancer she encircles her prey in a scene that feels subtly dark and dangerous. When the shoot is over, the model leaves the apartment and we are left uncertain if we’ve witnessed a modeling shoot or a red-light encounter.
Tristan, sometimes known as Stan, and Sara are long-time best friends. Somewhat reserved, Stan is a maintenance man aspiring to be an actor. Sara is a struggling actress who is aggressive about seeking auditions for the both of them. She soon acquires lead roles for them in a Gothic play, where she portrays a bewitched lady who succumbs to Stan’s vampire-persona. Sara arranges for the couple to attend a costume-cast party. Hired to photograph the party, Raven and the similarly costumed Stan are soon drawn to each other, much to Sara’s chagrin. As the film proceeds, deception and betrayal lead to Raven’s crime of passion and Stan’s untimely murder.
I think what is most interesting about “Triptych” are the symbolic metaphors, doppelgangers and other worldly dimensions that intersperse throughout the cinematic reality we see. Jeran cleverly accomplishes this with her parallel play-within-the-film. “Triptych” reminds me of Carlos Saura’s “Carmen” (1983), Jan Svankmajer’s “Alice” (1988) and David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” (2006), all rolled into one disturbing package. When reality and stories merge, where does that leave us? In the case of John Hinckley, Jr., he and his victims are forever scarred into history. For the rest of us, only time and more provocative Rossana Jeran films will tell.
“Triptych” will soon be available on DVD.