Triangle of Sadness

Triangle of Sadness, the new film from acclaimed Swedish director, Ruben Östlund, is a scathing satire on the super rich and over-privileged. He is not a director who sits down politely and is kind to his main protagonists. His previous two outings, Force Majeure, a story of a man who abandons his family during an avalanche, and The Square, in which he deals with the sometimes pretentiousness of the art world, brought him notoriety and respect. Now, with his second Palme D’or winner, he has delivered another film that is both thought-provoking and extremely funny, which punishes his characters, something he seems to enjoy.

Male model, Carl, has found his life is starting to free-fall. After a successful career, he has to rely on his girlfriend, Yaya, an influencer. She is given a trip on a luxury yacht for the super-rich as long as she is shown enjoying the world on board. Along with a Russian who made his money in manure and an elderly couple who sold and made weapons, the overprivileged clientele enjoy fine dining and a crew who cannot say “no”, although the captain, an alcoholic, isn’t a fan of the job or the food. Yet when an accident occurs, the tables are turned on those with money and those from below deck.

Broken down into three parts, Östlund’s film is certainly his most accessible. Never being as deep as The Square, the humour and his attack on society is very much on the surface. What you see is what you get. That’s not a bad thing, as this opens his films to a much wider audience. What this film does achieve is a broad comic touch, in which he sends his characters through hell, especially during one sequence during a storm, where the mix of rough weather and outrageous food do not go hand in hand. Be warned, it’s not pleasant viewing but it is hilariously funny.

The first part focuses on Carl and his partner, Yaya. He is a Londoner made good on the male model scene and in the open, we see him topless and having to subject himself to being almost a slab of meat for a job. This is followed by a night out with Yaya at a restaurant, where the conversation about paying for the bill becomes all too recognisable, even for those who don’t have money. We then move effortlessly to the boat, where the outlandish behaviour of the passengers becomes incredibly laughable. One passenger demanding the sails be cleaned, when the ship doesn’t have sails.

The final part is set on an island, where the aftermath of events from the boat ends up and the difference between rich and poor become increasingly obvious. If there is a criticism, the final part isn’t as savage as the first two and it also is the one section that could have done with some trimming. Even with this, it’s still very funny and you will never be able to listen to a whistle again without thinking of this film.

The performances are top-notch. Woody Harrelson, as the captain, is having the time of his life, while Zlatko Buric as the Russian is a perfect sparring partner for Harrelson. Harris Dickinson, who was last seen as Richard Attenborough in See How They Run, is terrific as the model who seems slightly out of his depth. There is a sense of sadness to the film, as Charlbi Dean, who is so good as Yaya, sadly passed away not long after its success at Cannes.

Triangle of Sadness is a blast. Not many comedies of late can really make you laugh out loud but this one does. It maybe his most obvious film to date, but Ruben Östlund is certainly a director to watch with great interest. I will expect he will be searching out a new group of victims for his next film, but in the meantime, enjoy this wonderfully daft slice of suffering for those who can afford it. Oh and what does Triangle of Sadness mean? It’s that space between your eyebrows and nose that shows emotion.

4 out of 5

Director: Ruben Östlund

Staring: Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Woody Harrelson, Dolly De Leon, Vicky Berlin, Zlatko Buric, Henrik Dorsin

Written by: Ruben Östlund

Running Time: 147 mins

Cert: 15

Release date: 28th October 2022


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