By Nina Vekua, MA Film and Television
Ruben Östlund, the Swedish filmmaker, returns to Cannes with his first English-language feature, Triangle of Sadness. This new movie, like his 2017 film The Square, is about power and privilege, beauty as currency, gender expectations, and a hierarchy that can seemingly only be shifted by catastrophic events for the sake of survival. Also, like The Square, it has been awarded the prestigious La Palme D’Or.
The first of three chapters opens with Carl (Harris Dickinson), a young male model, auditioning for a ‘grumpy’ (read expensive) brand. His girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) also works as a model, however, is much more successful, thus the questions of money and gender roles inevitably arise.
Is it emasculating for his much more financially advantaged girlfriend to occasionally cover the bill and is it manipulative of her to pretend she doesn't see it so that her boyfriend picks it up?
Following this discussion, the gorgeous influencer couple embark on a journey on a luxury yacht, where they encounter an ensemble of obscenely rich and flamboyant characters like Russian manure magnate Dimitry (Zlatko Burić) and an elderly couple who turn out to be hand grenade suppliers.
It does not take long before the absurdities of the ship's spoiled guests and the staff being unquestioningly obliging are interrupted by fireworks of vomit and waves of feces bursting out of toilets. ‘A feast in time of plague’ turns into a complete frenzy that ends in collapse, completely overturning the hierarchy to which all the inhabitants of the ship are so accustomed.
Östlund's meticulous approach and attention to detail cannot fail to catch the eye. Static long shots expose the characters with all their faults and prejudices. The director doesn’t invite us to share one of the characters’ perspectives; instead, he observes from a safe distance, almost as if it were a wildlife documentary.
The theatrical release of Triangle of Sadness is set for the 28th of October, and I urge you to see this masterful satirical class comedy on the big screen. This is a perfect film to watch in a cinema amongst an audience to share the experience with.
As for the BFI pre-screening at Watershed, Östlund would probably be happy to see that the audience was anything but silent during the film and very much participated in the performance.
Featured Image: by Neon, Courtesy of IMDB
Do you think Triangle of Sadness was a worthy winner of the Palme D'Or?