Ben Oliver

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Triangle of Sadness

So is this runway casting for a grumpy brand or a smiley brand?
30 November 2022

An fashion model-cum-influencer couple (Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean) are invited to a cruise for the super rich on a private yacht. Things get interesting when it becomes clear that the captain (Woody Harrelson) is completely unhinged.

As with his previous hit Force Majeure1, Ruben Östlund takes his well-to-do characters, traps them in a confined space then sets their world on fire. In this case they are more than just well-to-do, they are billionaires, and the ‘fire’ is a boat moving so violently it is making people seriously ill. Perhaps it’s about to sink.

The first act is mostly dead weight but the film really beds in when everyone boards the boat. We kick off with a plastic box being dropped into the ocean by helicopter, and picked up by the yacht crew. When opened on board it’s just a few jars of Nutella that have been requested by a guest, who we later see doesn’t really care about them.

The captain declares that the main event, the captain’s dinner, should take place on a night predicted to have terrible weather. I’ve been on boats that are moving around all over the place and I’ve never seen it captured quite as well on film as it is here. They keep the camera locked to the horizon, so you get the uncanny effect of the room moving while everyone is still.

This leads to the film’s most memorable crescendo as people get iller and iller while trying to eat dinner. I laughed like an idiot. Others seem to have found it quite nauseating.

The boat is struck by pirates and the third act is spent on a deserted beach, with the survivors trying to find food and make a fire. It goes on too long, but Östlund has an eye for satire and watching the chief stewardess try to serve drinks and snacks to the guests out of a lifeboat is hilarious.

A sick comedy that sometimes over-indulges as much as its characters, but leaves an indelible mark on the viewer.