'Triangle Of Sadness' Review: Luxury Cruise Goes Horribly Wrong In Ruben Östlund's Shameless Satire
Wait, let me grab my sea sickness medication, then never finish my food for a few months and grow a quick Instagram following so I don't have to pay for anything ever again. Okay, I think now we're ready to sail the stormy waters of Triangle Of Sadness (same title used in Sweden) a satirical comedy helmed by Ruben Östlund who's the director, writer and co-editor in what is not his first trek to this particular genre.
20-somethings Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) are fashion models and a couple navigating their rocky relationship. They end up getting invited to a luxury cruise for extremely wealthy people, like Russian businessman Dimitry (Zlatko Buric) and sad loner Jarmo (Henrik Dorsin), before the ship sinks after a storm and leaves Carl, Yaya and few other survivors deserted on an island, where the privileged are proven to be a burden while cleaning lady Abigail (Dolly de Leon) shifts the power balance.
As mentioned, Östlund is no stranger to commenting on class, privilege and abuse of power in his films; luckily he just proves to be in much sharper form with Triangle Of Sadness than his last film 'The Square', which often went for the lowest hanging fruit with little payoff. Here the absurdity and characters' vanity are turned up in the right moments and not in every single scene where it clearly isn't necessary. What also works better is that those ideas are reflected in choices in regards to filmmaking, where cinematographer Fredrik Wenzel's camera is constantly active, reacting to the actors' reactions and movements in perfect harmony, while Östlund and fellow editor Mikel Cee Karlsson accentuate those moments by being in sync with the film's suitably unpredictable soundtrack, which keeps shifting genres like a jukebox.
Even though we are mostly with Yaya and Carl, the film morphs into an ensemble piece, which then works thanks to fine casting by Pauline Hansson and Östlund, bringing in different comedy styles to contrast the jitteriness of Dickinson. Dean is notably the one who emerges as she can often disappear in to a quite small performance in middle of all the craziness while still having the comedic timing to deliver some great stings. Some of the cast gets a bit overshadowed, most likely because the premise doesn't offer too much nuance when the writing is determined to put people in somewhat stereotypical boxes. This is rather apparent in the cruise section since the first few scenes work only as vignettes and not as setup for it. Even if the film manages to stick the landing, you might still wonder a little if the structure could've complimented the unpredictability more than it did.
Smileys: Casting, soundtrack, Charlbi Dean
Frowneys: Structure, premise
Just don't buy snacks when you see this movie. You can thank me later.