Director Ruben Ostlund is a provocateur. His films can be seen as pointed critiques, poking fun at the upper crust, marital conventions or the art world. His new film “Triangle of Sadness,” which won the Palme D’Or at Cannes, jabs at the Nouveau Riche and internet culture. Although the film veers very close to gross out humor, it is a facile update of The Lord of the Flies and a fitting end to a sardonic trilogy starting with “Force Majeure” (2014).
This film is composed of interconnected chapters focusing on the young and well-to-do. Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) are cruising on a multi-million-dollar yacht. Carl is a model and Yaya is an internet influencer. Both are self-centered and at times outright selfish. They spend a considerable amount of time misunderstanding each other and being jealous. The scenes with the two of them, who are clearly not in love, contain some of the film’s best passages.
The captain (Woody Harrelson) is drunk, and overwhelmed with questions of capitalist greed.There is dominant Russian woman (Sunnyi Melles), a game tycoon (Henrik Dorsin), a by the book ship attendant (Vicki Berlin), and a fertilizer king (Zlatko Buric). A motley bunch to say the least.
When the state of the art craft hits a storm, all of the tuxedo wearing, shimmering gowned passengers become violently sea-sick. Some guests get concussions, others have strokes and what follows is a kind of supernatural melee on the level of an exorcism or a scene from Monty Python, complete with a trio of projectile vomiting scenes and a fecal explosion. Hold the quivering sashimi.
If that is not enough, a band of pirates demolish the ship. Most of the spoiled ones are left intact and find themselves on a patch of land, forced to co-exist.
While there might not be much new here, Ostlund allows his characters to breathe and interact. A stand out is actor Dolly De Leon, the janitor who gets the upper hand.
While the gross scenes of disgust, sewage and vomit are sure to alienate some viewers, there are pointed moments of ridicule where the numbness of the privileged are held up in full horror.
While the touch of Ostlund is far from subtle and he seems to go for the sucker punch, the sight of a google-eyed Woody Harrelson, exclaiming “I am 100% fine“(as well as an over-whelmed waiter comically caught between yes and no, which might just be the film’s most effective moment) will give many viewers ample time to guffaw and ponder.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org