Human history back to the Bible and beyond is lousy with love triangles, providing a jumping-off point for countless artists across all mediums. Rare is the love triangle where all three corners hang out and live together happily.
But those are the conditions under which Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson and Blake Lively find themselves in Oliver Stone's new film, "Savages." Based on the acclaimed novel by Don Winslow, it tells the story of an ex-Navy SEAL and a Cal-Berkeley-trained botanist who share a pot-growing operation and a gorgeous blonde, Ophelia.
When O is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel, the guys go to the mattresses, ready to do whatever it takes to get her back—so they can continue to share her. Is half of Blake Lively better than no Blake Lively? Hard to say, but it doesn't seem like a long-term plan.
Whether it is or isn't, "Savages" got us thinking about some of the better and more bizarre love triangles of 2012, as well as some of the all time greats.
First, the classics...
Fight Club (1999) – This cult classic from David Fincher stars Ed Norton as a nameless office drone who befriends the unrestrained Id known as Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who starts a torrid affair with a chain-smoking pill popper named Marla (Helena Bonham Carter). What makes this triangle unique (spoiler alert) is that it's really only got two people in it, and they mostly hate each other.
Money quote: "There are things about you that I like. You're smart, you're funny, you're...spectacular in bed...But you're intolerable! You have very serious emotional problems. Deep-seated problems for which you should seek professional help."
The Graduate (1967) – Dustin Hoffman is Benjamin Braddock, a young man trying to find his way in the world, Anne Bancroft is Mrs. Robinson, his parents' sexy friend who tries to seduce him one night after he gives her a ride home, and Katherine Ross is Mrs. Robinson's gorgeous daughter, Elaine. Even under the best of circumstances, most love triangles are ticking time bombs, a mother-daughter triangle is a surefire disaster.
Money quote: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me."
Jules et Jim (1962) – Francois Truffaut's masterpiece tells the story of two friends, Jules and Jim, who meet a beautiful young woman, Catherine, who ends up marrying Jules just before the start of WWI. A few years later, when the marriage begins to fail, Jules convinces Jim to marry her so the three of them can still pal around together. Naturally she ends up back with Jules.
Money quote: "You said, 'I love you,' I said, 'Wait.' I was going to say, 'Take me,' you said, 'Go away.'"
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) - A coming-of-age story in which Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna star as a pair of teens who fall under the spell of Louisa (Maribel Verdu), sexy older woman in her late 20s. The three of them go on a road trip in search of a legendary Mexican beach, during which the boys reveal to each other that they slept with each other's girlfriends, before falling into bed with Louisa.
Being John Malkovich (1999) – To call the dynamic in this film a triangle somehow doesn’t feel adequate. John Cusack plays Craig, a man whose wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), starts entering the body of John Malkovich (playing himself) so that she can have sex with her husband's co-worker, Maxine (Catherine Keener). Consumed with jealousy, Craig locks his wife in a cage so he can enter Malkovich and have sex with Maxine.
Money quote: "Have you ever had two people look at you, with complete lust and devotion, through the same pair of eyes?"
U.S. & World
And now for the five best of 2012...
The Hunger Games
Whether she realized it or not, Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne have been making googly eyes at each other forever, while Peeta Mellark has been silently longing for her from afar. Katniss' blissful ignorance is shattered when she and Peeta are selected as tributes for the annual Hunger Games, forcing Gale to make his move, but giving Peeta the inside track. Having been raised in a dystopian future where poverty and finding food supersede such pedestrian concerns as boys, Katniss is at a loss.
Money quote: "Well, there, uh. There is this one girl that I've had a crush on forever. But I don't think she actually recognized me until the Reaping."
John (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by writer-director Seth MacFarlane), have been together for more than 20 years. But their union is endangered by John's girlfriend of four years, Lori (Mila Kunis), who doesn’t want to live with a stuffed animal that rips bong hits and drives drunk. We usually frown on women making men choose between them and their friends, but it's hard to begrudge a woman her desire to keep her living room clear of hookers.
Money quote: "It's been four years, Johnny boy. You and me have been together for 27 years—where's my ring?"
This Means War
FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are best friends and colleagues at the CIA, but their bromance is threatened when they both start dating the same woman, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). In addition to flowers and Champagne, the men deploy the agency's state of the art technology—everything from poisoned darts to drones—to win her hand. This film could go a long way toward explaining a decade-plus of failures at the CIA.
Money quote: "Don't choose the better guy, choose the guy that's gonna make you the better girl."
Officer Dave "Date Rape" Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a hard-drinking, pill-popping cop who still has dinner every night with Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche), his two ex-wives who happen to be sisters. Brown possesses a gift for making everything more difficult, so why should marriage and divorce be any different? But as appalling as his decision making is, he at least can point to his service in Vietnam and on the LAPD, as well as his substance abuse, as factors in his heroically bad decision making, what the hell is wrong with these sisters? Their kids are both siblings and cousins, for crying out loud.
Money quote: "You were a dirty cop and you dirtied us all up by default."
Take This Waltz
Margot (Michelle Williams) is a happily married writer who meets a handsome stranger, Daniel (Luke Kirby), while away on business, and the two engage in what is originally some harmless flirting. But things get awkward when they share a cab from the airport and realize he lives right across the street from her and her husband, Lou (Seth Rogen). It's hard not to hate Margot just a little bit by the time this thing plays out.
Money quote: "I want to know what you'd do to me."