TIFF ’22: ‘Triangle of Sadness’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Triangle of Sadness is one of the most unpredictable films this year and that is what makes it so fun to watch. From the beginning, you become locked in on the atmosphere and how director Ruben Östlund is making you feel. You are pulled into the fast-paced lifestyle of the modelling world and instantly understand the commentary on the fashion industry as a whole. That is the central focus in the first act but then grows into an overarching concept of privilege and how to survive in the world. When the two models Yaya (Charlbi Dean) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) go on a free cruise with other super-rich people it ends up sinking, leaving survivors trapped on an island.

What was so entertaining about this film is that the conversations about money and business were quite laughable. Everyone has their etiquette when it comes to spending money and working for it. What starts as a small dinner conversation about paying the bill turns into so much more as the film goes on. Yaya is an Instagram influencer and model who ends up getting everything paid for. She gets sent on holiday and brings her model friend Carl with her to take pictures of her. Together they develop a friendship (or more than one) and understand that it is more of a business transaction. Once they get on the cruise their relationship takes a backseat while Östlund shifts to the other characters on the cruise with them. They have all found success in different ways but the way they live their lives is somewhat questionable. 

The second act highlights the differences between the working class and the upper class in a humorous way. These privileged characters act a certain way on this yacht and the crew has to cater to their every need. But once the weather shifts on the ship, what transpires almost feels like karma for the way these characters were acting. It is truly one of the best sequences because it carries so much weight with the commentary on the upper class. Even though it’s a bit unsettling to watch, the conversations between The Captain (Woody Harrelson) and Dimitry (Zlatko Buric) play up the comedic moments while the madness is unfolding on the ship. Once certain characters get stranded on this island, the forced survival mode flips the power levels between the working class and the rich. Each act just adds to the determination to survive to be successful. 

Östlund crafted such a bold feature for Neon’s library because of how he combined the social commentary with three specific locations that would elevate it. The way it’s structured slowly builds into this grand finale that subtly shows the vicious cycle of trying to advance while privilege is not handed to you. It’s so engaging not only because of Östlund’s direction but because of how audiences can connect with the themes that are being explored. This cast worked together so well and each of them had such strong comedic timing to carry each act. Dean, Dickinson and Buric were standouts among the cast, but when Dolley De Leon stepped in as Abigail their world was flipped upside down. Östlund will leave you pleasantly surprised with his work and you will want to watch it again instantly. 

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