Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund, 2022, US/Sweden/UK/Germany/France/Turkey/Denmark/Greece/Switzerland/Mexico)

Triangle of Sadness is the English-language debut of Swedish writer-director Ruben Ostlund. Ostlund's last two films - Force Majeure (2014) and The Square (2017) - have become classics in their own right, and Triangle of Sadness will likely find a similar fate. The film has not only won the Palme d'Or, but has received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. This is surprising because although Triangle of Sadness is perhaps Ostlund's most accessible film, it is nevertheless still an Ostlund film. Ostlund's films largely traffic in discomfort, from minor unpleasant interactions too - in the case of the film's major set piece - an entire cruise turning into the cruise from hell. He seems to thrive on making audiences uncomfortable, and Triangle will and has undoubtedly turned some stomachs (figuratively and literally).

Beyond this surface-level provocation, Triangle is an ambiguous examination of power dynamics in society. The first section, which focuses on a stressed relationship between two models - Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) - is essentially an extended conflict over money and gender roles. The film's centerpiece is the second section - The Yacht - all of which takes place on a luxury cruise. Carl and Yaya have been invited as influencers, and things quickly go awry. This leads to the film's final section - The Island - where Filipino actress Dolly DeLeon steals the show. Triangle is a deeply humorous film that is open to a variety of interpretations. While some may condemn its satire as "on-the-nose," the film is not the simple "eat-the-rich" film that the marketing promoting the film has suggested. As with The Square, this is a film whose intended target is the audience who is most likely to enjoy it. That makes it deeply subversive and interesting.



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