Ruben Östlund’s brand of satire is no stranger to the Fantastic Fest crowd. In past years, the festival has screened his films Force Majeure and The Square and the Fantastic Fest crowd have devoured these movies with relish. So, it makes absolute sense that the programmers would conclude this year’s event with Östlund’s newest movie Triangle of Sadness. And let me say that I totally ate up this wicked sharp satire with much joy and excitement.
The film mostly follows a couple of fashion models (Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean), enjoying a carefree lifestyle of glamour and excess. While their relationship isn’t exactly mature or stable, nothing has genuinely challenged their passion for one another. That is until they take a fateful vacation on a luxurious super yacht. During their holiday, they encounter a diverse assortment of people who represent the obscenely wealthy. Everyone seems to be having a wonderful time, until a treacherous and relentless storm wrecks their ship and leaves the survivors stranded on an island. This is where roles drastically change, as the wealthy castaways must submit themselves to one of their former servants who proves herself totally capable of survival and skilled in providing sustenance for everyone.
Written and directed by Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness is an uproarious, satirical black comedy that pulls few punches when it comes to indicting the worthlessness and insipidity of ridiculously wealthy people. I laughed so hard during this screening that I was brought to tears. It truly is a very satisfying movie that embraces absurdity in all of the best ways. My only complaint is that in the last acts of the movie, the film gets a bit redundant with its sequence of events. This makes the movie longer than necessary.
Still, pretty much all of the humor works swimmingly. At the same time, I can see some people being turned off by how “on the nose” the social commentary can be. But, I love how unapologetically Östlund thumbs his nose and extends a fat, juicy middle finger to his targets. Compared to his previous movies, Triangle of Sadness and The Square are his punk rock albums, while Force Majeure is a much more subtle and restrained offering.
The cast assembled for this movie is a miraculous collection of talents, though American audiences are unfamiliar with most of them. It is a lot of fun to see eccentric actor Woody Harrelson have a wild time in this movie, but his presence is very limited compared to the others. Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean are both extraordinary as the vapid and dimwitted models Carl and Yaya. Croation/Danish actor Zlatko Burić is also exceptional as Russian capitalist Dimitri. The real superstar of the movie is Filipino actor Dolly de Leon who portrays Abigail, a ship maid who becomes the alpha leader on the island once they get settled in. She is an absolute joy to behold on the screen, as she exudes the perfect confidence and strength her character demands.
Triangle of Sadness is now playing in select theaters, including the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. If looking for a delightfully razor sharp satire that is guaranteed to deliver hearty laughs, look no further!