- Colin Fraser
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS
FOUR STARS The rich and entitled are put through a ringer and hung out to dry.
DRAMA SWEDISH English #TRIANGLEOFSADNESS
Starring Harris Dickinson, Woody Harrelson
Swedish provocateur Ruben Östlund make the kind of movies film festivals love. His art-world satire THE SQUARE picked up the Palme D’Or at Cannes, as did his latest, an entitlement satire that broadens out to take pot shots at, well, just about everyone. And with good reason (the winning, as well as pot-shooting).
The worry lines (the triangle from which the film gets its name) of a young model are about to get a significant work out. He’s concerned that his influencer girlfriend isn’t taking him seriously (she’s not), more so as he tries to stake some intellectual and moral high ground. He may be pretty but he’s completely out of his depth. When they’re invited on a luxury yacht trip helmed by philosophising alcoholic Woody Harrelson, their tenuous social purpose (primarily posting preening pictures on social media) is put to the test along with that of their fellow passengers: a Russian oligarch, retired weapons manufacturers, a tech billionaire and assorted trophy wives.
A violent storm upends everything (including stomachs and bowels in one of the film’s longer, and more hilariously puerile, scenes). Now on a deserted beach, the story turns full Lord of The Flies with social order failing and the survivors doing their best not to kill one another, tempting as it may be. Our young model may have finally found his calling as ‘companion’ to the tribe’s self-installed leader, a Fillipino maid from the yacht. After all, she’s the only one with any useful survival skills.
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS isn’t so much satire as it is a highly barbed series of jokes that are squarely aimed at the vapid and vacuous. Thus the points of his triangle - toxic vanity, corrupting fortune, white entitlement etc - are not exactly subtle as Östlund cuts his subjects at the knees. He’s well aware of the limitations of grand schadenfreude (and who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy seeing a self-indulgent Instagrammer come a cropper?), allowing us just enough sympathy with his subjects to make their pain more tangible, more realistic. Thus they rise above mere caricatures to pained, grotesque, individuals, and the film is oh so much funnier for it.