Triangle of Sadness is wealth without filters . . . or Botox. Ruben Östlund, famous for his unnerving satires The Square and Force Majeure, delivers a three-act commentary on waste, excess, and hoarded wealth, eventually upending the boundaries separating the rich and the poor. Triangle of Sadness introduces us to the (fittingly) petty influencer couple, Carl and Yaya, played by Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean, as they bicker over dinner about the bill and money. No passion, strictly business.
By the second act, the couple embarks on a grotesquely luxurious cruise among opulent guests including a Russian capitalist, played by Zlatko Buric, and an elderly British couple who earned their fortune by developing the hand grenade (keep this in mind). Östlund’s mastery of tension nears perfection during the nauseating dinner scene, hosted by the drunk and disenchanted captain (Woody Harrelson). However, Östlund fumbles this exciting commentary by abandoning the film’s subtlety for heavy-handedness and vomit. In the chaos, the yacht is attacked by pirates, ending the cruise and the lives of most passengers.
But this does not discredit Östlund’s mastery of momentum. Triangle of Sadness is without a doubt riveting, demanding the audience’s attention for its near three-hour run time. Despite Östlund’s shortcomings and imprudent tropes, Triangle of Sadness is harrowing, consistently funny, and packed with surprises. Östlund dissects the aristocracy, shows us what’s inside, and encourages us to laugh.
It is necessary to mention that Triangle of Sadness is overflowing with stunning performances that keep the film afloat at its low points, especially Dolly De Leon’s Abigail, a toilet cleaner who capsizes the class structures and takes control of the castaways. Behind Östlund’s satire, the film’s final moments are cruel, revealing insights into the director’s pessimistic view of the world. Triangle of Sadness tries to unravel the foulness of the upper echelon, but its redundancy and unvarying interpretations prevent this satire from exceeding superficiality and truly puncturing the elite. R, 150 min.