When your geometry teacher told you triangles come in equilateral, scalene and isosceles, she was wrong. Triangles come in wild shapes. Three sides twist and collide at different points. There are triangles with a bend for jealousy. Arcs of rage and yearning. Degrees of angst and passion. This trailer trash collection reveals love triangles in all their varied shapes, from boy-and-boy-meet-girl to boy-and-girl-meet-possessive-gorilla.
At their worst, love triangle stories tell predictable versions of an oft-played out scenario. At their best, love triangles put characters in the very real conflicts of love, friendship, and desire and expose how characters react under those pressures. There’s a lot we can learn from a good ole’ love triangle tale. Below are some serious love lessons from the trailer trash movies, from the doomest of doomed triangles to ones with true love at its peak.
Or, How International Travel Makes You More Interesting and How “Seal The Deal” Applies to Love and Business
What Happens: Sabrina is the daughter of the wealthy Larrabee family chauffer. Her whole life, Sabrina has been hopelessly in love with David Larrabee, a playboy and serial groom who’s never paid much attention to her, until Sabrina comes back from a trip to Paris. Suddenly Sabrina is a sexy, sophisticated lady. Just as suddenly, David is interested. The problem is he’s engaged to a wealthy woman and there’s a big corporate deal riding on the wedding. David’s older brother Linus tries to keep the engagement (read: the business) intact by diverting Sabrina’s attention but falls in love with her in the process. In the end, Linus tells Sabrina to leave and never return, so she boards a boat to Paris. In a last-ditch panic, Linus tries to call off his brother’s wedding and get David on the boat with Sabrina, but David intends to see the marriage through. So Linusboards the boat and the couple sails off to the city of love!
Takeaways: 1.) Nothing keeps a marriage together like corporate interest. 2.) Brothers are interchangeable. You should be happy with whoever shows up on a boat as you flee to another country.
Or, How Freud Should Have Done More Work on Siblings
What Happens: Matthew, an American exchange student in Paris, seems incapable of making friends and spends most of his time alone at the Cinémathèque Française. As the 1968 student riots start to broil, he meets a pair of French twins, Isabelle and her brother Théo, also both rabid film lovers. The siblings are intensely intimate (read: toeing the line on incest), and Matthew, drawn to both - though especially to Isabelle, gets sucked into their salacious and experimental world while they lose touch with the reality shaking France outside their doors.
Takeaways: 1.) Sex can be a distraction, but shouldn’t always be. 2.) If you fall for one half of a twin, always double-check that the other half hasn’t fallen for the other half as well.
Death Laid an Egg
Or, How Breeding Headless Chickens and Cutting Up Prostitutes Is Bound To Affect Your Love Life in A Seriously Weird Way
What Happens: Mark and his wife Anna run a mechanized chicken farm. Mark helps kill chickens by day, and acts out fantasies of murdering prostitutes in a roadside motel by night. He only married Anna for her chicken fortune, and is having several affairs, including one with Anna’s cousin Gabriella. Pairs form as everyone plots to kill each other in a love triangle of double and triple crosses. Though Mark’s a giant skeezball, he is against the wingless, headless chicken beasts scientists have created in the lab. So he’s got that going for him.
Takeaways: 1.) Everyone’s got at least one thing to counteract their raging flaws? 2.) That one thing is usually never enough. 3.) Never marry for poultry.
Or, How to Torment Your Ex-Lover by Dangling Their Safety and Freedom
What Happens: You should know this. If you don’t, see the movie. You’re 70 years overdue.
The Takeaways: 1.) Sometimes the greatest act of love, is to give up love completely. Rick’s act of self-sacrifice to save his former lover and her husband may have lost him Ilsa, but it won the hearts of millions. 2.) Try to keep Nazis out of your love life. They will always find a way to ruin it.
Jules et Jim
Or, How Bros Before Hoes Will Save Your Life
What Happens: Two writers and best friends, Jules and Jim (an Austrian and Frenchman respectively) are enjoying life in pre-WWI Paris, when they see a statue of a woman’s face with an enigmatic grin. They believe they are destined to fall for a woman with the same cryptic smile. In comes Catherine, an impetuous and seductive beauty that Jules and Jim both fall in love with instantly. WWI starts and the two friends are fighting on opposite sights, each terrified they’ll be forced to kill each other one day. The war ends, Jules marries Catherine, and they have a child. But the impulsive Catherine can’t be tied down and has several affairs. She seduces Jim so Jules, terrified she’ll leave, agrees that Jim can marry Catherine and they all live together, happily for a time. But tensions flare over infertility, then a miscarriage and it all spirals down until guns are pulled on lovers and a car is driven suicidally off a bridge, leaving only one of the three alive.
Takeaways: 1.) The most dramatic love triangles happen in Paris (see above) 2.) Never look for love inspired by an enigmatic statue. They make great models for beauty, but stone cold models for love.
Y Tu Mamá, También
Or, How Two Lusty Teens and an Emotionally Addled Older Woman Can Lead to Weird Sex in Hindsight
What Happens: Teenage boys Julio and Tenoch meet Luisa, the wife of Tenoch’s cousin and woo her by telling her about an invented, secret beach they know how to get to. Luisa gets a call that her husband is cheating on her, and heartbroken, she agrees to road trip to the beach with the boys. Luisa seduces both Julio and Tenoch, though they’re both fiercely jealous of each other. In the end, they do find a beach and after a night of beachside boozing, they have a ménage-a-trois and Luisa walks out the next morning, leaving the boys to discover they slept together. When the boys awake, naked, they frantically run away from each other and basically never see each other again.
Takeaways: 1.) You can seduce a woman by making up imaginary places 2.) Bros with hoes can end friendships just as easily
Some Kind of Wonderful
Or, How Sensitive Artist Types Can Win Over Pretty Popular Girls and Hot Drummer Chicks
What Happens: Tomboy Watts realizes she loves her best friend Keith when he gets a date with the most beautiful, popular girl in school, Amanda Jones. Amanda’s rich ex-boyfriend is grossed out and humiliated that Amanda would date a guy from the poor side of town. He invites Amanda and Keith to a party, only so he can beat the shit out of Keith. But Keith has other plans. In the end, Keith gives Watts the diamond earrings he purchased for Amanda using his college tuition fund. So, hopefully that works out.
The Takeaways: 1.) Go on more than one date before you buy a girl earrings. Lock it down, before you’re left without a girlfriend or a future 2.) Sometimes the rich guy really is a douche.
Or, How Relationships That Begin with Sacrificial Death Rituals Will Always End in Disaster
What Happens: Independent film director Carl Denham loves to shoot animal pictures in remote, exotic locales, but can’t get an actress for his new picture. Wandering the streets, he convinces a destitute beauty Ann to get on a tramp steamer and star in his movie. At first, the ship’s first mate Jack Driscoll is wary of Ann’s presence adamantly insists that women aren’t allowed on ships (their periods probably attract sharks and sea monsters), but before you know it, he’s in love with her. They land on a foggy island inhabited by still-living dinosaurs and a beast the natives call “Kong.” The islanders are about the sacrifice their own for the beast, but when they see Ann they kidnap her and present her for sacrifice instead. Kong is enamored with Ann and even kills a T-Rex for her. Jack rescues Ann but when they bring the beast to New York, it breaks free and famously carries his blonde bombshell love to the top of the Empire State Building before he comes crashing back to earth. As Denham put it, “Beauty killed the Beast.”
Takeaways: 1.) Aspiring (or uninspiring) actresses can be a little choosey on early roles (i.e. don’t get on steam ships with strangers) 2.) Giant, hairy beasts are usually better fighters than lovers 3.) Rooftop views aren’t always romantic.
In sum, love triangles are unavoidable. Every man and beast will get caught up in one at some point in life. What’s important is what shape you give that triangle, how you maintain those relationships, and that you never trust scheming directors, prostitute murderers, or the city of love.
Kristen Bialik is a writer, teacher and graduate student of Journalism and Mass Communication. In her spare time, she's a baker of pies and maker of stories.