The rich get sick in vomitive Cannes comedy Triangle of Sadness

In the five years since his film Square won the Palme d’Or here at the Cannes Film Festival, the Swedish writer and director Ruben Ostlund seems to have spent some time watching Bravo’s yacht crew reality show Below deck: Mediterranean, scrolling through Instagram with a snort of frustration and rolling eyes, and, like the rest of us, watching how the super-rich got even richer at the expense of so many others. At least that’s what his new job suggests. sadness trianglea film that evokes Swept away, the white lotusand a myriad of other rich people satire, only with a lot more vomit.

A scathing comedy told in three parts, sadness triangle has knives (heh) for a lot of people. There are the male models, and, really, the entire fashion industry, whom we meet in the film’s thunderous cold opening, which features a posh fashion correspondent interviewing a group of gaping hunks. One of those hunks is Carl (harris dickinson), a fit lad from the UK who, despite his amazing good looks and previous experience as a cologne model, fails to get the catwalk job he’s auditioning for.

We meet his girlfriend, the most successful model and influencer Yaya (charlbi dean), when the two argue over who should pick up the tab at a fancy restaurant that neither seems to have enjoyed. This sequence is the Östlund that fans of his devastating masterpiece Force Majeure you will more closely recognize in its precise and poignant satire of human dynamics, particularly those between romantically linked men and women, while a broader social horror looms over. This first piece of the triptych promises more of that, a well-known evisceration of how we live now, and perhaps always have.

Then he goes to a yacht. It is not a private letter, as you would see in below deck, but an elegant and exclusive cruise. Östlund sets that stage well, quickly mapping the ship’s ecosystem, with guests languishing on deck, all-white butler staff preparing to earn big tips, and a largely Asian and black crew working anonymously in the laundry and lounges. of machines. . It seems that a subversion of this order is coming, a revolution for which Östlund – and, indeed, life in the world – has whetted our appetite.

But first the vomiting must come, a torrent of vomiting as the ship cuts through the rough seas. This ornate and deliriously vile piece is more reminiscent of Square, which continues to escalate the absurdity to the point (at least in this reviewer’s opinion) of incoherence. It’s fun and satisfying to watch these monsters get punished for their oligarchic leniency, but one hopes everything is spewing towards a point.

Which is expected with increasing tedium in the third section of the film. A loose group of crew and passengers find themselves stranded on an island, forming a rough little society and, of course, falling prey to all the usual human frailties, particularly our rapacious species’ supernatural ability to create inequality. It is in this part of the film that Östlund seems to lose sight of his specific goals, or perhaps confirms that his approach was much more scattered than it seemed before. He keeps his anger mostly on the entitled fans who can’t believe that the power that has made them fat (both in body and mind) has become largely useless. But he also lets other angers in, hurling rocks and grenades at just about anyone who seems to offend his sensibilities in one way or another.

sadness triangle It doesn’t have to be a fair movie, nor one that easily delivers the simple righteousness of the have-nots triumphing over the haves. However, a more carefully formed argument would have been appreciated. And one that didn’t dissolve so quickly into a boyish giggle. There are myriad moments of wicked and clever brilliance in Östlund’s film: at its penetrating best, his writing has amazing fluidity, switching between classes and types with appalling dexterity.

The cast capitalizes on this crisp dialogue with panache. Dickinson reveals a comedic moment that perhaps none of us thought he could possess. (I guess you can have it all?) Dean helps dig into what could have been a sarcastic Instababe character. The great Zlatko Buric cunningly, and yet strangely humanely, he plays a Russian billionaire who literally sells shit. Y Dolly de LeonAppearing rather late in this two-and-a-half-hour run, she walks away with the film as a yachtswoman possessing an intelligence and a mettle that none of the rich, nor her bossy superior, anticipated.

The biggest name in the cast is Woody Harrelson, who plays the drunken Marxist captain of the yacht. He laughs and drinks as his passengers are sent circling the ship’s dining room, spilling their gourmet food. As the film stumbles towards its abrupt end, it seems that Harrelson could have been playing a version of Östlund himself, the director reveling in and cheering on the chaos of all these idiots fighting each other, not realizing that this was unavoidable. .

There is a nihilism in the film’s final stance, its image of absolute power that absolutely corrupts, no matter who wields it. You can organize your little riot, sadness triangle he says with a shrug, but all the same old problems will rear their heads given enough time. So why bother?

History, read in a certain way, can support him in some of that. And Östlund still seems to side with characters who have been crushed for a long time, even when they’re at their worst. But in the end they are all part of the same sorry cycle, in Östlund’s opinion, which brings his film ever closer to the rocky shores of the island of shitty posters and trolls who just make fun of everything while the world burns. . Maybe that’s really all we can do. Who would be foolish enough to think that this can be fixed? But his turn to sardonic “whatever, man” apathy finally leaves sadness triangle stranded in the sea.

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