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Film Festivals

Triangle of Sadness | Movie Review | Cannes Film Festival 2022

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The last time Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund was in Cannes he went home with the Palme D’or for his satire on the pretentious world of art culture; The Square – that was back in 2017. Now 5 years later he has returned to the croisette to debut his shape-related follow-up; Triangle of Sadness which has caused the most noticeable slice of fanfare in the festival lineup this year. Östlund’s new film received an 8 minute standing ovation after its gala screening – the longest (and loudest) of the festival thus far. Might he be looking at back-to-back Palmes? We shall find out in a few days time.

At first upon hearing the title of this film I presumed the “triangle of sadness” might refer to a love triangle within the narrative. However, as explained in the opening scene when model Carl (Harris Dickinson) is practicing his catwalk for a panel of casting agents. The triangle actually refers to a triangular patch of skin between a persons eyebrows and across the bridge of their nose – which Carl can’t seem to relax. They mutter that the twenty-something might need botox.

Knowing his best days as a model are in the rear view mirror, Carl and his fellow catwalk model girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) hatch a plan to travel the world as a pair of super-hot influencers. They see their relationship as transactional. A means to boost each others followings so that when their expiration date arrives on their youth, they can live off the earnings and sponsorship deals they acquire off of Instagram. They’re given a free trip aboard a luxury yacht which brings us to act 2 appropriately titled “the yacht”.

That’s as far as I’m going to go into detail regarding the plot because anything else would be spoiling it. But let’s just say from here on out the remainder of the film is wild.

Arvin Canadian and Woody Harrelson in Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness

Triangle of Sadness is definitely a less-you-know-the-better prior to going into film but it is a rapturous delight. I laughed so hard it actually hurt. Marketing for this film has been very scarce (and for good reason), what happens on board the yacht can only be described as pandemonium. It’s best to just go into this one and let the madness unfold.

Östlund has always been a filmmaker who likes to make his audience squirm. The Square was jam-packed with deliciously awkward scenes which see typically privileged characters being subjected to uncomfortable circumstances. And he’s brought the same serrated satirical wit to Triangle of Sadness.

There’s so many brilliantly awkward scenes in Triangle. In fact the opening act is simply one long argument between the Carl and Yaya about who should pick up the cheque at a restaurant. It’s a humorous unpacking of societal expectations when it comes to gender roles. And when it comes to the subject of money, class and wealth – Östlund leaves no stone unturned.

There’s numerous pointed little scenes onboard the yacht which highlight the tone-deafness of it’s predominantly white and exceedingly wealthy guests. One snobby passenger isn’t happy with the cleanliness of the ships sails – despite the fact its a motorised yacht which has no sails. There’s a very telling shot where Vicki Berlin’s head steward is getting her team of Aryan crew members to stomp and clap like a New Zealand rugby team. Screaming to “always say yes” in hopes of a receiving a generous tip. Östlund then immediately cuts to the deck below where the ship labourers are cramped into one room and all have brown skin.

With its jabs at the privileged, Triangle of Sadness is in many ways a companion piece to Östlund’s The Square but when it comes to the comedy he’s really cranked it up a notch in Triangle. This time he’s gone more raucous. There’s an entire set piece that revolves around projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea – which I found thigh-slappingly funny. Normally I find toilet humour a bit cheap but the way that Östlund gradually builds to this audacious set piece is a masterful display of set up and payoff. And because Östlund’s script is so biting and sharp, when it does come to the gross-out stuff it feels truly earned.

Triangle satirises class, white privilege, the fashion and modelling industries, influencer culture, gender politics and the super rich. It’s not saying anything that we don’t already know but it’s very much in on the joke.

There’s a recurring theme in the film that everybody is equal but this sentiment is often hilariously juxtaposed by the ships crazy-rich guests which highlights that while they see themselves as equal – some are clearly more equal than others.

Coastal House Media Writer Luke Hearfield with Woody Harrelson star of Triangle of Sadness at the Cannes Film Festival

The performances are wickedly fun to watch. Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean make a wonderfully vacuous pair of self-absorbed influencers. There’s also fantastic work from many of the ships characters such as Zlatko Buric who plays a Russian philanthropist who made his millions in fertiliser and got dubbed “the king of shit”. He has a marvellous scene with the ships boozed-up captain played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson. And Dolly De Leon also gets a memorable part as the ships toilet manager Abigail.

As for negatives; the film will probably be a bit too long for some at two hours and thirty minutes but Östlund’s screenplay is such a joyous laugh-a-minute ride that it can be easily forgiven. At times its a little self-indulgent and a couple sequences go on a fraction longer than they need too. There’s a few minor scenes that could’ve been taken out easily without the film losing its message – such as a scene about engagement rings and another where a character finds some aftershave.

Triangle of Sadness is tremendous follow-up for Ruben Östluand. It’s off-the-rails but in the most entertaining way imaginable. A probing satire about the elite 1% which will have you howling at the cinema. Make sure to catch it in cinema surrounded by others.

Triangle of Sadness premiered in competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Stay up to date with Luke’s coverage from the Cannes Film Festival via Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and TikTok @lukehearfield

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Wagman Studios | 2021 Summer Movies Mashup

Summer blockbusters are back! Take a look at this short mashup containing over 20 of the summer’s hottest movies

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Summer blockbusters are back! Take a look at this short mashup containing over 20 of the summer’s hottest movies

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A Quiet Place Part 2 – Movie Review

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Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realise the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. Luke Hearfield gives his thoughts on the long-awaited sequel once again directed by John Krasinski and starring his real life wife Emily Blunt. It’s time to head back to the cinema and enjoy the experience of sitting in a room full of strangers and sharing the collective feeling of deliciously uncomfortable silence.

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