As its title suggests, Triptych is split into three sections, each one following an interconnected character. Michelle is a schizophrenic just getting out of the hospital. She goes back to her job at a small bookshop in Quebec City and tries to pick up her life, despite her brain working against her. Thomas is a surgeon in London, England dealing with a newfound tremor in his right hand by pushing it aside with alcohol. And lastly, there’s Marie, a jazz singer who tries to rediscover her childhood after brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumour leaves her with memory gaps.
Triptych is the product of collaboration between Robert Lepage, one of Canada’s premiere dramatists and director of acclaimed films like Le Confessional and The Far Side of the Moon, and Pedro Pires, a promising young director making his feature debut after several stylish shorts. Adapted from Lepage’s own play “Lipsynch”, Triptych wants to be an examination of how we connect to people in a cold, unforgiving world; the typical themes that these types of interconnected narrative films want to explore. Every moment is suffused with so much self-importance though (operatic music swelling constantly, every shot calling attention to itself) that it’s hard not to roll your eyes. Additionally, the characterizations are all thin, so there’s no real reason to care about their hardships. Everybody has problems – that’s life.
Pires’ shorts have typically been experiments in style and you can see it all over Triptych, but it’s never in service to any sort of atmosphere. This smothers the quirky naturalism that Lepage has pulled off so well in his previous work, leaving a film that is all too heavy-handed and really just dull.
Is Triptych essential TIFF viewing?
No. Lepage has made far better work that is more deserving of your time.