Review: grotesque satire of the “Triangle of sadness” of social classes
The question of value runs through Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness”, a beautifully grotesque satire on the guests and workers aboard a luxury yacht. The ideas may not be new and the targets may be easy, but the Swedish filmmaker who made a cottage industry of taking on scabs in films like ‘Force Majeure’ and ‘The Square’ still has a times did something extremely uncomfortable and undeniably entertaining.
Besides, from “Succession” to “The White Lotus,” it’s not like we get tired of watching the privileged class enjoy their privileges, to quote Macaulay Connor from “The Philadelphia Story,” whether they get or not their reward in the end. .
The beauty and fun of something like ‘Triangle of Sadness’ is in the details, like the well-observed and precisely crafted awkwardness of who should foot the restaurant bill, or the rules about who can sit front row in a restaurant. ‘fashion show. Ideas about class consciousness aren’t something a freshman isn’t already familiar with. But even when the film begins to quote Marx, it’s done with a wink and amid a deluge of bodily fluids. really is the great EQ (consider yourself warned).
The title, “Triangle of Sadness,” says Östlund, refers to the wrinkles between the eyebrows that plastic surgeons can fix with a shot of botox. It’s not a phrase I’ve ever heard – worry or frown lines seem to be the common ways of describing it, but, apocryphal or not, it’s a good way. Here, our entry into the world of the 1%, they are a model couple, Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean, an up-and-coming talent who tragically passed away in August at the age of 32). Their only currency is their beauty juvenile, which is lucrative at the moment.
After a keen insight into their public and private world, Carl and Yaya are invited aboard a $250 million yacht for a little vacation among a rarefied ensemble. Their ticket is paid for in the hope that Yaya, who is also a social media influencer, will Instagram the experience. The others on board have presumably paid their own way, with the riches of big business – technology, agriculture and even the arms trade (embodied by the most innocuous English grandparents you’ve ever seen).
The crew is reminded that every request must be met with a yes. In this transactional relationship, the hope is that their servitude will be rewarded with a big tip. But what happens when a guest asks, then demands, that the whole crew take a break and go for an afternoon swim when everyone is supposed to be getting ready for the big captain’s dinner? They preserve appearances a bit. Then it’s all vomit, blood and general feces as Woody Harrelson’s drunken Marxist captain and a Russian oligarch (scene-stealer Zlatko Buric) speak out on ideologies and quote Noam Chomsky over the loudspeaker.
It might be a natural conclusion to “Triangle of Sadness,” but Östlund, who wrote and directed, still has a chapter to dedicate to what happens when several guests and crew get stranded on a deserted island. There, a character we’ve barely met, Abigail (a formidable Dolly de Leon), who on the ship was in charge of the toilets, is the only one who knows how to catch and clean fish and make a fire. In this environment, his skills are the only ones that matter, and a new world order is formed.
The third episode on the island is no less than the others, but it’s starting to overstay its welcome. “Triangle of Sadness,” which is nearly two and a half hours long, peaks before the arrival of the symphony of bodily fluids and survival intrigue. Östlund probably could have kept the whole story under two. But perhaps maximalism is part of the point since revolution certainly isn’t. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, a gathering that’s not without excess.
Perhaps Östlund’s thesis was there at the beginning, on the big screen behind the fashion show: “Cynicism disguised as optimism. Again, this is territory that’s been covered before, but one only has to look at the shenanigans currently unfolding at Paris Fashion Week to realize that, as hyperbolic as it tried to be, it only scratched the surface.