Triangle of Sadness

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Satirizing the upper class is very in right now. Parasite won Best Picture in 2020. The Menu has been entertaining moviegoers in cinemas for the past month. TV series The White Lotus just completed its second season on HBO. Glass Onion — the sequel to Knives Out — hits Netflix on December 23. Triangle of Sadness is the latest opus by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund. It secured the Palme d’Or — the highest merit — at the Cannes Film Festival in May. His movie The Square took the award in 2017.

Östlund’s sensibilities are dark but with a humorous undercurrent. The script explains that a “triangle of sadness” is the furrowed brow of wrinkles due to tension in the face. An alternate explanation is that our sorrowful tale is conveniently divided into three parts. The through line that unites all three sections is a young dating couple, Carl (Harris Dickinson) is a male model, and his girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) is also a model. She is an influencer, and they’re invited on an ocean liner in exchange for promoting it on social media. Beauty is their ticket into this world of elites.

Through them, we get to know some of the wealthy vacationers on board the luxury yacht. There’s a lonely tech billionaire (Henrik Dorsin), a Russian fertilizer tycoon (Zlatko Burić) traveling with his wife (Sunnyi Melles) and mistress ( Carolina Gynning), a sweet elderly married pair (Amanda Walker & Oliver Ford Davies) who amassed a fortune manufacturing hand grenades, and a poor German woman who has suffered a stroke and repeatedly says “In Den Wolken” which means “in the clouds.”

In an upstairs-downstairs scenario, we also see scenes of the crew working hard to cater to the guests’ whims and desires. The head of the crew is Paula (Vicki Berlin), who believes no request is too absurd. The ship’s drunken captain (Woody Harrelson) is a self-proclaimed Marxist. But the most noteworthy individual is a “toilet manager” named Abigail, portrayed by Filipina actress Dolly de Leon. If the Academy truly exists to honor the best performances regardless of Hollywood status, they will nominate the heretofore unknown. She makes the most memorable impression in a supporting role for 2022. Her brilliant performance is the kind of depiction that often gets overlooked. Later the ship encounters rough seas, the power goes out, and pirates attack the ship. Only a select few survivors can escape. They wind up on an island.

To give more plot details would be to ruin the surprise of what occurs. Ruben Ostlund’s screenplay is a companion to Force Majeure (2014) and The Square (2017). The trilogy collectively mocks the 1%. I was riveted by the twists and turns of how the narrative in his latest develops. The story touches on class, race, and gender to comment on celebrity, wealth, and inequality. Yet it unfolds organically, which compels the viewer to keep watching. It’s a long production (147 minutes) but never dull. I will admit in one extended sequence, the people on the boat get sick, and there’s a lot of regurgitation. It goes on for far too long, but that’s the purpose. You’ll either be repulsed or amused by the exaggeration. It’s outrageous. I wasn’t a fan of that patience-testing display. However, everything else succeeds. The objective isn’t subtle, but it is intelligent and funny.


Triangle of Sadness is available to rent on digital retailers like Amazon Video, Apple TV, Vudu, YouTube Movies, Google Play, and more.

One Response to “Triangle of Sadness”

  1. This was completely wacky, but fun, in a weird way. I loved the how the help, adhered to the ridiculous requests with smiles on their faces. I’ll bet their internal voices were busy. I agree, the Filipina was the all star. 4 ⭐️


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