Triangle of Sadness

By Joanna Langfield

It’s all fun and games until the s**t literally hits the fan.

Ruben Ostlund’s Palme d’Or winning eat the rich comedy certainly relishes its goal, as well as itself. Decidedly political, but with the glossiest of veneers, this is a story in three parts. First, we meet the celebrity models, Carl and Yaya, who fight as much about money as they do over the status of their relationship. Offered a free trip on a fancy yacht (as Influencers do), we are off to the high seas of chapter 2. The crew is told to smile and say yes. And to expect a big tip from the very, very wealthy on board. We watch it all unfold safely from afar, laughing ruefully, in on Ostlund’s moral jokes. But then, at the fancy dinner the reclusive Captain insists on holding, despite the foreboding weather forecast, all hell breaks loose. Everybody’s faces are rubbed in vomit and excrement. Including, it seems, ours. A third chapter focuses on the surviving passengers and crew, shipwrecked on an island. Some of us, we find, are better at coping than are others.

There are currently several, thankfully more restrained takes similar to this. (May I recommend Mike White’s The White Lotus, for example.) Oh, and it can be of some sport to watch the arrogant get theirs while the trodden upon? Well, maybe they’re getting theirs too. But Ostlund, who, with a lighter touch, has reached far deeper with films like Force Majeure and The Square, seems to be satisfied widening his target instead of narrowing in on it. Clearly, there are a lot of people in this world who are perfectly content with skimming the surface. But the real sadness for me here is seeing someone sacrifice subtlety to sound an alarm that leads us nowhere.