Triangle of Sadness (2022)

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Triangle of Sadness

Just like that family sitting peacefully having their breakfast with the French Alps in the background when suddenly an avalanche shakes their world and changes it forever, that’s how Ruben Östlund shook me with his Force Majeure (2014). From that moment it has been an obligatory task to follow in the footsteps of the Swede. Triangle of Sadness is his sixth feature film. With the sharpness that characterizes him, he delivers an irreverent comedy that takes advantage of every minute to compose a social critique.

With this film, Östlund won his second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and his fourth total prize. In 2017 he had already won another Palme d’Or for his film The Square. The common denominator in the work of the director of Bergman’s land is the human being and his relationship with society. His films take a careful look at today’s world and forcefully criticize the behavior of society in different areas of life.

Carl’s Triangle of Sadness

Carl (Harris Dickinson) is a young model making his way into the world of catwalks. We see him in that first sequence competing for a place against other applicants. His girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) is already a queen in the fashion world. The cameras can’t resist her as she struts around bravely and seductively. Three sequences are enough for Östlund to put us in context and by showing us a few hours in the life of Carl and Yaya we can understand where the discourse of Triangle of Sadness is going.

The superficial dominates while banalities are glorified. Never have we had so many empty speeches, and slogans that sound good and make us feel that we make a difference but that die in inconsequential ways. Carl shouts his desire for equity at the top of his lungs, but he himself does not know what this implies. Yaya only understands transactions on a material level, the quid pro quo is her flag.

The Yacht

The satire reaches its highest point in the second act of the film. Carl and Yaya find themselves on a mega-luxurious yacht with a group of billionaires. The interactions of our protagonists with the other guests are the vehicle used by the director to bring up all the topics he wants to deal with. From the greedy oligarch to the mild-mannered old couple who gloat about their fortune with weapons for war. In this eccentric universe of opulent figures, Carl and Yaya are perceived as the most harmless and even naive.

The yacht is the perfect allegory for the class division in modern society. The workers who make everything work are seduced by the reward of a salary, and those who with money obtain the power and incompetence of those who are called to captain the ship. Woody Harrelson’s character as the captain is brilliant and is enshrined in the dinner sequence.

During a storm and a raging sea, the guests gather for an elegant dinner hosted by the ship’s captain. At this point, the director shakes up, both figuratively and literally, the lives of these billionaires and reduces their world to nothing.

The Island

In its third act, The Triangle of Sadness presents us with a role reversal, the director makes us reflect on social myopia that prevents us from seeing what we have right in front of our eyes. The island that receives the survivors, who have been stripped of everything, becomes a metaphor for our world. At this point, the movie has wiped out everyone and everything, and together with the characters we must confront the most fundamental instincts of the human being. Black humor reaches its highest point, and the director sticks his finger deep into the wound.

The cinematography by Fredrik Wenzel (Force Majeure, The Square), which from the beginning has given us wonderful shots, reaches its highest point in the final minutes and especially in the final sequence that leaves us baffled. Triangle of Sadness is a great film that uses black comedy to open the discussion on issues relevant to everyone who considers themselves human beings.

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