Cynicism without Optimism

Triangle of Sadness

Director: Ruben Ostlund

Cast: Harris Dickinson, Woody Harrelson, Charlbi Dean, Zlatko Buric, Dolly De Leon, Hanna Oldenburg, Vicki Berlin, Alicia Eriksson, Sunnyi Melles

Running time: 2 hours and 27 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

From vacuous fashion models to the super wealthy stranded on a luxury yacht when things go awry, Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s savage satire on the selfie generation, the extreme fascination fueled by social media with affluence, luxury and beauty is fully explored with cynicism in his award winning film Triangle of Sadness which won the coveted Palme D’Or (Best Picture Prize) at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.

British actor Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man, Where the Crawdads Sing) stars as Karl, a male fashion model whose beautiful looks and gorgeous body ensures that he does get out of any situation relatively unscathed. Karl is accompanied by the beautiful Yaya played by the late fashion model turned actress Charlbi Dean who came from Cape Town, South Africa who tragically passed away in New York City at the age of 32 in August just three months after the Triangle of Sadness’s electrifying premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022.

The first section of the film focuses on the shifting gender dynamics in the complex relationship between Karl and Yaya as they argue who is going to pay for the bill at an expensive European restaurant. The real grit of the film starts in the second section of the film whereby Karl and Yaya have won passage aboard a luxury superyacht as influences whereby they meet an array of extremely wealthy people all of whom have gained their affluence through dubious means from manufacturing hand grenades to cornering the Eastern European market on fertiliser.

Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (The People vs Larry Flynt, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) appears briefly as the reckless ship’s captain as he is mostly drunk when things literally go pear-shaped at the Captain’s dinner, from the first hint of chaos to the absolute carnage as glamourous guests are puking after eating caviar and the ship starts getting wrecked in a massive storm before being attacked by Mediterranean pirates. All this is occurring while the cleaning staff wait patiently below deck for the dinner to be completed. The cleaning staff are headed up by chief toilet manager, Abigail played by Dolly De Leon, whose performance deserves some recognition at the 2023 Oscars for Best Supporting Actress.

As the third section of the film arrives, some of the surviving guests are stranded on a supposedly uninhabited island in the Mediterranean, whereby Abigail takes charge and soon uses the beautiful Karl for much more than just fire building. As the gender and class dynamics shift again, Abigail and Yaya go in search of what is happening on the other side of the island only to find some form of an illustrious civilization, which proves tantalizing to both.

Director Ruben Ostlund’s brilliant three part satire on the super rich is repulsively fascinating, brilliantly cast and perfectly orchestrated featuring some memorable scenes, deadpan Scandinavian film aesthetic and deserves to be seen especially the superb ending.

Triangle of Sadness gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and features more cynicism than optimism. Highly recommended viewing as it’s a beast of a film.

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