Ruben Ostlund is a director that isn’t shy about putting controversial topics in his films. He has dealt with topics of marriage and relationships in Force Majeure and business and expressionism in The Square. Now he tackles the class system and excess in The Triangle of Sadness. One thing is for sure he doesn’t mess around when he has something to say he says it in his films and he has been rewarded for that with the Palme d’Or twice. The highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Carl and Yaya (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Deal Kriek) are a young couple who are living their best lives. One is an influencer and the other is a male model. They disagree at dinner one night and this may change their relationship forever. Next thing you know they are on a luxury cruise on a private yacht in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of stuck-up snobs who seem to have great lives of excess as well. When a storm hits this changes everything for the crew of the yacht and its passengers.
Ostlund pokes fun at the rich and those who don’t have a care in the world. The yacht specializes in giving its passengers everything they need and to the extent that one lady wants all the workers on board to go for a swim down a waterslide on board and so they do just to please this rich snobbish woman. It’s crazy the lengths Oslund goes to show these people’s excess. Even the food they eat is pretty far out. Like caviar and mollusks for dinner. That is except for the captain who gets a cheeseburger and fries for dinner. He got his own issues though, alcoholism.
The film has some crazy interesting characters besides the two young people. It has a couple of Russians who seem to like this life of excess. Ironically they made their money in manure. Another couple made their money in munitions and didn’t think twice about the repercussions of what they sold and who it hurt in the end. A few other odd people on board are deaf-mute and code creator for apps and video games. These may be two of the most normal people on board this yacht. These people are definitely an odd bunch of weirdos.
This movie takes a turn for the worse and Ostlund doesn’t mess around with his thoughts on the class system in the world and how these people respond to this bad situation. One woman, in particular a maid on board the yacht, decides to take things into her own hands and changes the dynamic of the film entirely. This is where the viewers watching get the full brunt of what Ostlund is trying to say about the world and excess. Those that have it flaunt it while they can because the tide may literally turn and it does in this movie.
There are some extremely difficult scenes to watch in this film in the middle and once again Ostlund is sticking his middle finger up in the air toward these people who are rich and have nothing better to do than stuff their faces with exotic food and drink which proves to be a detriment to them in the end. Because it comes back to them once the storm hits. This may be one of the most gross scenes I have ever seen in a movie ever. And I’ve watched a lot of gory bloody horror films in my day. This takes the cake though. I was prepared for it though.
Ostlund deals with a lot of terrific topics in this movie in the grossest ways possible but he also uses some cool technical aspects that make certain scenes very effective while watching them. These technical aspects worked perfectly in the context of the film. I would love to know how he did some of this stuff in a special feature on the Blu-ray in the future because these scenes were crazy in a good way. One scene, in particular, I wasn’t happy with was animal abuse even though it was barely shown. I could still imagine the scene in my head while watching it unfold. This wasn’t necessary.
Triangle of Sadness was quite the exercise in brutality as far as what I was watching unfold on screen. It was a lot of excess at the expense of trying to show me and others watching what these types of people are like. It goes to great lengths to show that for sure. I think this was the only way to do this to get its full brunt of what Ostlund is trying to say. How things turn is also very interesting. The cast is good even though I hated half or more of their characters. The technical aspects worked perfectly. And I got the message of what is being said and depicted on screen loud and clear. I give Ostlund a round of applause for being so bold.
3 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen