Ruben Östlund received the Palme d’Or at Cannes for Triangle of Sorrows. Satire is a harsh and sometimes disgusting critique of capitalism and the class system. Sometimes this works well, but it’s not entirely convincing.
Director Ruben Östlund is known for films in which he addresses socio-political grievances. While it was patriarchy and the associated toxic masculinity in Suit and Square, both of them also play a part in the conclusion of the trilogy. However, the focus is on criticism of capitalism and the social injustice that goes with it. Once again, the Swede manages to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Triangle of Sorrow has three chapters. The film starts with a fashion business with “Karl and Yaya”, then moves on to “The Yacht”, which is eventually shipwrecked. So we continue with The Island, where the balance of power is suddenly reversed.
In the beauty industry, the sadness triangle is the area between the eyebrows where the so-called frown line forms. The only 25-year-old model Carla (Harris Dickinson) at the casting is advised to get a Botox injection there, which describes part of the theme: a person as a commodity. Carl and his girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean Creek) are not only a beautiful young couple, they both work as models and influencers. However, Yaya is significantly more successful than her boyfriend because women are better than men, at least in this industry. That is why there are always quarrels between lovers. When Yaya receives an invitation to a luxury cruise, Carl still wants to accompany his girlfriend.
The oversubscribed super rich think it sucks
On the $250 million ship are some super-rich people with extremely large subscriptions, including Russian capitalist Dimitri (Zlatko Buric), arms makers Winston (Oliver Ford Davis) and Clementine (Amanda Walker), and other wealthy, elderly white people. Among them is Teresa (Iris Berben), who, after a stroke, has a small vocabulary but a sharp mind. When Captain Smith (Woody Harrelson), a supporter of communism and socialism, has a nervous breakdown, ambitious head stewardess Paula (Vicki Berlin) has to deal with spoiled guests and their absurd desires for the time being.
A strong storm brings the intoxicated captain back to the deck. Despite the expected rough seas, he insists on a sumptuous meal with his passengers. It happened as it was supposed to happen: soon everyone is spitting out their once noble contents of the stomach in all directions. When a group of Somali pirates attempted to hijack the yacht the next morning, and some of the shipwrecked found themselves stranded on a desert island, the previously prevailing social conditions no longer mattered. Suddenly, slick Filipino cleaner Abigail (Dolly De Leon) is at the top of the pecking order because she’s the only one who can make a fire and catch a fish. A circumstance that she gladly uses and thanks to which she can take what she wants.
Big effect, less depth
Satire that exposes the inhumanity and superficiality of the capitalist system thrives on wordplay and original ideas. And it causes a stir, especially with the growing orgy of vomiting. Scenes relating to those suffering from emetophobia (People with fear of vomiting – Note d. editor) by the way are not recommended. But Östlund understands this as a criticism as well, as the rich throw away their disgusting lives and activities almost in a high arc from the body. However, the Yacht chapter seems to be limited to that, while the other two parts of the film deal with the issues more clearly and become more personal in the process.
Otherwise, Östlund, unlike its predecessor films, relies heavily on effects, which, among other things, is reflected in the special sound design. However, a lot of depth is lost in the process, which would certainly be possible given the theme. So the “Triangle of Sorrow” does not quite subtly denounce the absurdity of capitalism and disgusts the viewer – not only in vomiting scenes. Either way, the film offers entertaining entertainment.
The Triangle of Sorrow will hit German cinemas on October 13th.
(This article was first published on Thursday, October 13, 2022)