'Triangle of Sadness': Ruben Ostlund's wild ride - film review

Published date03 October 2022
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
It's a wild ride that takes aim at some pretty easy targets, but makes a few good points and, more importantly, is funny much of the time. If Tom Wolfe came back to life and wrote a screenplay for a young Jean-Luc Godard to direct, it might play something like this

The movie opened the Jerusalem Film Festival this summer – Ostlund was the guest of honor – and it won the Palme d'Or, the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. This was a triumph for Ostlund, particularly since his 2017 film, The Square, a skewering of the wild pretensions of the art world, also won the Palme d'Or.

Triangle's win placed the director in a small and very distinguished group of two-time Cannes winners. His 2014 film, Force Majeure, about a family man on vacation who fails miserably at a true test of courage, also won great acclaim and was remade as Downhill with Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Ostlund, who has a background in documentary filmmaking, is a rarity among acclaimed European directors in that he seems incapable of writing a boring screenplay.

Triangle of Sadness, first third

The title, Triangle of Sadness, is a phrase a casting director for a commercial tells models when asking them to relax the part of their faces that reveals worry and care. We join this casting session early in the movie, as Carl (Harris Dickinson), an aspiring male model, struts shirtless to audition for a part.

Carl and the other blank-faced young men with hairless chests are competing in an industry that, we are told, is one of the few where women out-earn men by a wide margin. The opening third of the movie focuses on Carl and his girlfriend, Yaya (Charlbi Dean, a South African actress who died suddenly at age 32 in August, and who gave a playful and appealing performance here), a more successful model who is building a career as a social-media influencer.

Yaya is planning to model until she can snag a billionaire, while Carl professes true feelings for her. They conduct their relationship arguments in whispers when they join a cruise on a $250-million private yacht.

Triangle of Sadness, second third

On this yacht, Yaya and Carl don't quite fit in with the rest of the super-rich passengers. They are there because they are beautiful and a little famous; they're Instagram-ing for their supper.

Perhaps the movie's message about the current tension between the haves and have-nots is conveyed best in a scene where a passenger insists that a hard-working crew member drop her duties and...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT