14 Sept 2021
Lili Vetlényi, József S. Kovács, Dániel Gaál
You’re only thirty-six questions away from feeling like you’ve known a stranger forever. Pioneered by psychologist Arthur Aron in 1997, these questions are designed to slowly get more probing as you work through them, and by the final question, you’ll – ideally – feel like firm friends. There have been various rehashes of the same principle, perhaps most famously The New York Times’ Thirty-Six Questions That Lead to Love, which presented the 36 questions as a gateway to a long-lasting romantic relationship. Answer these questions and know the truth about human connection – but what happens when there are secrets you want to keep hidden?
From the beginning, Péter Engelmann’s short film Triangle echoes documentary filmmaking so strongly in its approach, that it seems like an army of white-coated scientists is watching their subjects behind the camera. The test subjects are all from different walks of life, each with their own ambitions. We meet ByStan (Dániel Gaál), a cocky, successful guy whose answers to the probing questions are trite comedic comments. His life is motivated by his high-flying career, gorgeous girls and easy laughs. Perp (József S. Kovács) is a little less sure of himself than ByStan, and he’s consumed with anxiety and parental worries. The final person to complete the experiment is Vic (Lili Vetlényi), a 28-year-old mother and wife who becomes the subject of the men’s envy: she seems to have her life together, and she joyfully lives in the moment.
Sitting in a room which looks more like a doctors’ waiting room than a cold lab, Vic, Perp and ByStan rattle questions off to each other, ranging from the simple “who would you have as a dinner guest?” question to the more taxing: “If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else what would you want to know?”. By this point, the audience can sense a twist coming. There’s tension on the breeze, and Vic, Perp and ByStan are getting along far too well enough for their happiness to be sustained until the end. Engelmann’s deeply haunting third act yanks happiness out of the characters’ reach, but Engelmann’s sustained grasp on emotions and responsibility echo the nail-biting early episodes of Black Mirror.
Triangle lures us in with the false promises of a social experiment, a documentary, or some kind of moral lesson about the infallibility of human friendship. Instead, darkness swirls underneath, and the final moments rattle you to your core.