A Sharp, Deranged & Beautifully Hilarious Satire

Jan 4, 2023

Home Movie Reviews Triangle Of Sadness Review: A Sharp, Deranged & Beautifully Hilarious Satire

Triangle of Sadness is a scathing takedown of influencers & wealth hoarders, the most deranged episode of Below Deck Bravo wishes they produced.

“Can you relax your triangle of sadness?” a casting agent asks Carl in the opening moments of Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning film. Carl is at a casting call for a so-called “grumpy brand,” one where its models can look down on their consumers. Someone filming the models makes them switch from their Balenciaga faces to H&M faces, a slight frown and a furrowed brow turned to a slash of pearly white teeth and dimples. Written by Östlund, whose film The Square also won the Palme, Triangle of Sadness is a visceral and scathingly hilarious takedown of models, influencers, and wealth hoarders and while it threatens to buckle under its lofty ambitions, its three-act story becomes the most deranged episode of Below Deck Bravo wishes they could have produced.

Triangle of Sadness begins with Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) navigating the world of high-end fashion and social media influence. They bicker over who is paying the check (“Should I take out my little calculator and tap tap tap?” asks Yaya before her card is declined), but they come together under the guise of an honest conversation, which is more of an excuse for them to throw barbs at each other and examine the power dynamics at play in their relationship. Eventually, they end up on a $250 million luxury yacht cruise, captained by self-proclaimed Marxist Thomas Smith (Woody Harrelson). Surrounded by couples with real capital (not just social capital), Carl and Yaya are out of their element when a storm sends them into a disgusting and unhinged mess.

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Östlund has his sights set on the uber wealthy with Triangle of Sadness, emphasizing the power dynamics that money forces to the surface of seemingly pleasant encounters. A patron on the yacht asks the employee serving them champagne to get into the hot tub, which turns into the entire crew taking the water slide into the ocean and pushing the captain’s dinner back by 30 minutes. Captain Thomas Smith and Russian Dimitry (Zlatko Buric) exchange rapid-fire quotes extolling the virtues of socialism and capitalism, respectively. While the guests on the yacht vomit and the toilets overflow into the halls, they’re throwing around the words of Karl Marx, Mark Twain, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan over glasses of whiskey. Eventually, even Thomas laments his status as a “real” Marxist, saying he has too much material property to even consider himself one. While it comes across as a bit heavy-handed at times, Östlund’s direction serves as a grounding tool amidst the chaos — and what beautiful chaos it is.

Triangle of Sadness takes its name from the area of the face above the nose and between the eyebrows where wrinkles occur and botox needles are injected. Halfway through the film’s second act, though, it recalls another famous triangle, one of the Bermuda variety. While the first half of Triangle of Sadness works perfectly well as a satirical, if familiar, send-up of wealth and beauty, it’s the second half of the film that Östlund finds his true sweet spot. Power dynamics expand and contract as characters are forced together and pulled apart. To say much more would delve into spoiler territory, but once some yacht-goers arrive at a lush tropical island, that’s when the real fun begins.

It’s also when Triangle of Sadness’ best character gets to shine. Dolly De Leon’s Abigail, mostly seen in glimpses as a cleaner on the yacht, steps forward and, à la Captain Phillips, declares herself the captain now. In a just world, she would be the Best Supporting Actress front-runner to beat but, as it stands, she’s just one of the best parts of one of the best films of the year. At just around two and a half hours long, Triangle of Sadness does drag at times and Östlund has said that the initial runtime of the film was almost four hours. The three-act structure of the film ultimately saves it, with each section providing a change of scenery that is both jolting and illuminating, putting the relationships between the characters into new contexts.

In making such an expansive film, Östlund has tackled his subject matter from all sides. While it may not be as sharp as previous efforts like The Square or Force Majeure, there’s something about the bluntness of it that works in conjunction with his vision. When it gets to be too on the nose, Östlund seems to know what he’s doing. It’s all just as showy as the capitalists that the film is indicting. From the yacht to the fashion to the dishes served at the captain’s dinner before hell broke loose, there’s nothing subtle about Triangle of Sadness — that’s why it works.

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Triangle of Sadness is now playing in theaters. The film is 150 minutes long and rated R for language and some sexual content.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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