Back at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, the uproarious class comedy Triangle of Sadness netted director Ruben Östlund an impressive second Palme d’Or, making him one of only three filmmakers to have earned the top prize for back-to-back features. (Presumably, he’s now in a group chat with Bille August and Michael Haneke.) As such, his latest feature has quite a reputation to live up to, and its marketing has met the challenge with attention-grabbing provocations befitting the film at hand.
Hot on the heels of an official poster depicting a moneyed crone projectile-vomiting liquid gold comes the trailer for Östlund’s seafaring satire, a clip that also teases the lurching inevitability of sickness on choppy waters. The puke-a-thon centerpiece of the film also makes up the core of a trailer that touches upon key themes of wealth, beauty, and grotesquerie without revealing too much in the way of plot.
We meet Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), a pair of models and influencers taking their personal brands onboard a gargantuan ocean liner doomed to sink and strand a handful of passengers in parts unknown. As everything sinks into the briny deep, a Russian manure magnate (Zlatko Burić) has a couple of laughs with the drunken captain of the vessel (Woody Harrelson). What we don’t see, the real meat of the film, is what happens on the deserted island once capable custodial staffer Abigail (Dolly de Leon) has dominion over the helpless one-percenters she used to serve.
In her review out of Cannes, our own Hannah Strong conveyed a mixed and measured reaction, writing that “it’s certainly an enjoyable watch, but not quite as well-executed as Force Majeure or The Square. Here, Östlund gestures towards big questions about the gender and class divisions, but always stops short of making any truly bold statements.”
Triangle of Sadness can be fairly called a lot of things, but subtle isn’t one of them, and the trailer follows suit. To the strains of the timeless Burt Bacharach composition “What the World Needs Now,” the full atrocity of the rich and (wannabe) famous is put on display for our delight and revulsion. Whether that’s side-splitting or stomach-turning will come down to taste.
Triangle of Sadness comes to cinemas in the US on 7 October, and then the UK on 28 October.
Published 9 Aug 2022
A young model couple find themselves on the holiday from hell in the latest provocation from Sweden’s Ruben Östlund.
Ruben Östlund’s agreeably bizarre fifth feature is an art world satire of ambitious vision.