The entitled, the new and old moneyed and ‘influencers’ are in the sights of Swedish director Ruben Östlund in his latest movie Triangle of Sadness.
The satirical black comedy which won this year’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival takes no prisoners when it comes to exposing the flaws of those he’s targeting.
Östlund uses instagraming supermodel Yaya (Charlbi Dean) and her not quite as successful model boyfriend Carl (Harris Dickinson) to explore the bad behaviour, excesses and insecurities of the super-rich and self-centred.
Divided into three distinct chapters, the first instalment of the movie explores the relationship between Yaya and Carl. Through their personal and professional lives we also get a brief insight into the workings of the fashion industry.
The second chapter follows Yaya and Carl’s cruise on a luxury yacht. The couple have been gifted the cruise on condition Yaya posts about the trip on her social media platforms. Other passengers include numerous wealthy Russians notably oligarch Dmitry (Zlatko Buric) who has made his name selling fertiliser, his wife Vera (Sunnyi Melles) and his mistress Ludmilla (Carolina Gynning).
There’s also an elderly British couple (Oliver Ford Davies and Amanda Walker) whose money has come from arms manufacturing, an ultra-wealthy programmer (Henrik Dorsin) and the wheelchair-bound Therese (Iris Berben), who is debilitated by a stroke but is still alert to everything.
The yacht’s crew, strictly supervised by Paula (Vicki Berlin), bend over backwards catering to the whims of the guests. They do this without the support of the captain Thomas (Woody Harrelson) who is continually drunk and who won’t leave his cabin.
Östlund uses the interaction between the passengers and crew to show just how badly behaved the wealthy can be. It’s also in this `second chapter’ that one of the film’s more controversial sequences takes place.
As a result of Thomas’ insistence his Captain’s dinner be held on the night when a major storm is brewing, most of the passengers become seriously ill. Their physical suffering is shown in great detail and in full technicolour! It’s not for the squeamish.
The third chapter of the film follows the adventures of some of the passengers who find themselves stranded on an island after disaster strikes the yacht. With hardly any food and no shelter none of the wealthy have any idea how to survive. Lowly below deck worker and toilet manager Abigail (Dolly De Leon) does and it’s a situation she takes full advantage of. Suddenly the wealthy and powerful find themselves taking orders from the astute and determined Abigail.
The themes explored in Triangle of Sadness aren’t new (think of The Menu although ‘Triangle’ is less confronting and violent). However the storyline and the work of the cast ensure there’s plenty to enjoy. All the cast are totally believable in their roles and expertly bring some humorous dialogue to life.
A Marxism vs Capitalism debate between the captain and Dmitry, the reaction of the wealthy English couple to one of their grenades, the colour of the yacht’s sails and Yaya’s instagraming moments are amongst the scenes to stand out for their wit.
At the same time few will forget the sea-sickness scenes. As is the case with most Östlund movies including The Square (which took aim at the art world) some will love his attack on his ‘targets’. Others may find it over the top. But most should find something amusing in one or more of the movie’s three chapters.
Triangle of Sadness opens in cinemas around Australia on December 26.
*Photo credit: Fredric Wenzel ©Plattform Produktion.
- movie, review
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