Triangle of Sadness

Triangle of Sadness is a vacuous farce attempting to be cleverer than it is, but will only be remembered for its outrageous toilet humour.

Triangle of Sadness directed by Ruben Östlund uses crass shock tactics as its way of distressing its audience about the absurdity of austerity, but the way it goes about it leaves a foul taste in the mouth.

Triangle of Sadness was screened as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2022. All words of this review were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.

Winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier in 2022, Triangle of Sadness was expected to be a success in understanding the nuances of black comedy and ripping into the exploitative modelling and influencer industries along with the uber-rich, yet the film will only be rememberable not for its poignant satire, but its gross toilet humour.

Triangle of Sadness flips the social hierarchy of wealth and power when a mega-yacht experiences issues at sea. Onboard the yacht however is a culmination of society’s richest, and therefore most powerful. Dimitry, a Russian capitalist oligarch (Zlatko Buric); a quaint retired British couple Winston (Oliver Ford Davies) and Clementine (Amanda Walker), who found their fortune in arms dealing; and a social influencer couple Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), only together for their vapid leeching of each other’s growth.

While the guests of the yacht are not to be liked, the crew serving it are equally as bewildered by the unquantifiable levels of wealth and are pushed beyond their normal levels of duty in the hopes of receiving a hefty tip.

As its only instantly-recognisable actor for most audiences, Woody Harrelson stars alongside the ensemble as the drunk, Marxist ship captain, jaded and unimpressed by the exploitative guests.

Culminating in a tilted sequence of a storm hitting the yacht, the actors manoeuvre a shifting nauseating stage reducing them all to a quivering wreck regardless of status.

The flooding of bodily fluids mirroring the erupting toilet of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite attempting the same ironic humour of Airplane! leaves little to be desired.

Many critics and writers will no doubt use this grotesque sequence as means to comment on the way in which film pushes boundaries and encourages audiences to explore how far is too far, yet to me, this conversation is running thin.

I recall when many were challenging Sacha Baron Cohen for his entry into an elephant in The Brothers Grimsby in the same way people are now questioning Triangle of Sadness’s necessity to induce audiences to an entire act of liquid purging.

This is exactly why Triangle of Sadness fails to achieve its satirical meta-comedy. Audiences are too focussed on the extreme second act meaning when the film revisits its themes in its closing act, many are left wondering about its purpose or whether the message hits as well as it should.

I wonder therefore if Triangle of Sadness and its themes would be better placed in the hands of a director like Adam McKay, or Yorgos Lanthimos, both of whom have experience creating black farcical comedies with a core message which challenges a specific aspect of comfortable modern living.

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By Conor Riley

Conor is the Founder and Editor for Cinamore, a publication focused on giving power back to journalists. As a portmanteau of the word 'Cinema' and the Italian word for love 'Amore', Cinamore aims to highlight the love that we all carry for the art of the moving image.


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