triangle of sadness2022.
Written and directed by Ruben Östlund.
With Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly De Leon, Zlatko Buric, Woody Harrelson, Vicki Berlin, Iris Berben.
Celebrity model couple Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) are invited on a luxury cruise for the wealthy, helmed by an unhinged boat captain (Woody Harrelson). What first appeared on Instagram ends catastrophically, leaving the survivors stranded on a desert island and struggling to survive.
Ruben Östlund won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2017 with his satire on modern art The place. He followed that up with another win for his latest subversive and satirical endeavor triangle of sadness which received Cannes’ highest accolade in May and proved a smash hit on the festival circuit. The film marks his English language debut for the director who was also responsible for the success Force Majeure in 2014.
triangle of sadness is a pastiche of the super rich in 2022, poking fun at everyone from arms dealers and Russian billionaires to influencers and models. There’s little respite during his 2 hour 20 minute run as Östlund opts for the jugular, not always in the most subtle way, but making for a hugely entertaining moment that largely unfolds aboard a yacht.
The heart of the film centers on male model Carl played by rising star Harris Dickinson and his girlfriend Yaya, played by the late Charlbi Dean, who died tragically in August. Rounding out the cast are Woody Harrelson in a hugely entertaining twist as the ship’s drunken and unreliable captain, Thomas Smith, and Dolly De Leon as the ship’s staff member, Abigail. The first part of the story focuses on the relationship between Carl and Yaya and a series of hilarious interactions around who gets the dinner bill before moving on to the yacht and eventually an island.
Going into detail would spoil some of the movie’s huge twists, but it’s safe to say that the levels of joke and grossness are compounded as the cruise progresses on its journey. We meet a myriad of hateful characters, each more unsympathetic than the next. The script can be a bit on the nose at times with gags extended longer than they might need to be, but this is a brutal send-off of internet culture and the richer, underpinning clearly the different class structures on the yacht and society more broadly.
The film’s sound design is one of its triumphs with background noise used to create a sense of discomfort, whether it’s pouring rain, a fly that doesn’t seem to go away or a creature somewhere in the background on the island. The use of these sounds creates an eerie feeling as the journey becomes more and more absurd.
Outside of Harrelson’s tumultuous turn as captain, making the most of his surprisingly sparse racing time, Dickinson once again proves why his star is so up after being part of See how they work And Where the Crawdads sing this year, this role allowing her to flex more muscles, sharing fantastic chemistry with Dean, it’s such a shame that the role that may have catapulted her to greater heights is her last as she lights up the screen and has fantastic comedic timing.
The tone of each segment of the movie plays out slightly differently and once we reach the island for the climatic section it saw comparisons to lord of the flies although not entirely losing the sense of sharpness and dry humor that is a constant. Östlund proves here that he can tap into an array of genres by managing to keep the film from swinging too drastically.
triangle of sadness is best observed without prior knowledge as this can spoil some of its genuine surprises. While at times its crude humor can prove a little too much, the razor-sharp script and timely subject matter make for a consistently engaging film that rarely feels its runtime. Performances across the board are spot on, blending dark humor and moments of darkness without ever losing sight of the fact that this is a satire.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★