Monday, December 26, 2022

Triangle of Sadness: Movie Review

Brilliant and entertaining social deconstruction.
If you want to summarize Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness as succinctly as possible, it’s what happens when the rich get bored – disaster. But of course the film is too perfect of a societal skewering to just make fun of rich people. There are three distinct parts. The first focuses on models Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), two people who didn’t necessarily grow up with wealth but their physical beauty has placed them in a bubble where they have to try to reflect and capture the average person.   2022

Directed by: Ruben Östlund

Screenplay by: Ruben Östlund

Starring: Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Vicki Berlin, Woody Harrelson

Carl and Yaya are in a relationship but they’re both so hilariously out of tune of their own privilege and limited intellect that any attempted conversations about money or gender end in fights. They are much better suited to photographing their food and lounging in swimwear. This limited skillset however lands them a free trip as influencers aboard a luxury cruise for the rich.

Part two is a look at all the individuals on this luxury cruise. There’s the obscenely rich and bored, and all of the staff complete with their own hierarchies including the janitorial staff at the bottom, the crew and servers, and the manager and finally the Captain (Woody Harrelson) at the top who’s closer to the obscenely rich and bored. The above start colliding at the Captain’s dinner – the significant turning point in the film when the divide between the rich and the servant class get flipped. A tragi-comedy plays out throughout the ship while The Captain gives a drunken speech about capitalism and socialism and Marxism. He’s the only character in the entire film who can recognize his own privilege and can nail the pitfalls of any political ideology, but he’s also the character partly responsible for the pending disaster due to his own selfishness and obliviousness to the very simple scheduling instructions the manager had given him. So disaster it is.

Part three is the aforementioned disaster but mentioning anything more would be a spoiler. The main point of part three is flipping of all of the class hierarchies established on the cruise ship. This is a Lord of the Flies social deconstruction involving adults from all races and walks of life. And it’s genius.

The title Triangle of Sadness has at least three potential connotations. The title is first mentioned in the opening scene referring to the frown lines between a person’s eyebrows and models are instructed to appear less sad. Although it’s never specifically mentioned what part of the world this cruise is in, I’m inclined to think the pivotal moment occurred in the Bermuda Triangle. And finally, we see three distinct social classes within the film representing each side of a triangle and for each part of the film a different social class is at the top and at each turning point of the film, the triangle is flipped, changing the social hierarchy of each class.

This entire movie is just a brilliant social deconstruction, and it’s entertaining to boot. Hilarious for most of the first half and at various times startling and curious for most of the second half.

One of the Best of 2022