TRIANGLE OF SADNESS
(****)-VITO CARLI

"...some of the best scenes and most memorable characters of the year"

Despite its Title, This is the Year’s Best Comedy

(121522)  Triangle of Sadness is an absurdist dark comedy that savagely satirizes the rich and attacks modern social media dominated society for its shallowness. The film also has elements of gross out comedy and a few genuine moments of horror. The title is a phrase meaning the undesirable frown lines between eyebrows which is seen as undesirable in model culture.

This tasty international cinematic smorgasbord is a Swedish/French/German/ UK/USA co-production in English language starring an African actress that was shot in Sweden and Greece by a Swedish director. The film received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival this past year, that festival’s highest award, and it received two Golden Globe nominations for supporting actress in a motion picture and best musical or comedy. It is also almost certain to appear on my best films of the year list.

The film deals with some of the same themes as the recent Parasite as well as Lina Wertmuller’s Swept Away and like those films, this one reverses the usual power dynamics in society with the poor getting even with the rich.

It was written and directed by the talented Swedish film-maker Ruben Östlund, whose credits include Force Majeure and The Square. His films tend to be quite long and deal with lofty themes, but Triangle of Sadness might be his most likable and most accessible effort. Part of the reason might be that most of it is in English.

The film stars Charlbi Dean, the South African actress who prematurely passed away just as the film was being released at a New York City hospital of a sudden illness at the age of 32. Besides her co-starring role in Triangle of Sadness, the rising star had a co-starring role in the Black Lightning show. Dean does a fine job playing Yaya, one half of a model couple with Dickinson, who are invited on to a luxury yacht for the ultra-rich before things go awry. Her newfound fame makes her death doubly tragic because she passed on just as she was reaching her commercial peak with this film.

Triangle of Sadness is split into three sections. The first is basically a comedy of manners that takes place in a restaurant and hotel (it could be part of a British sitcom), while the second has the couple on ship with some scenes that are reminiscent of the films of Luis Bunuel and Monty Python, and the last part takes place on an island.

The movie focuses on, Ya Ya (Cahrlbi Dean) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) a good looking but glib pair of gorgeous rich people that seem totally unaware of how vapid they are. Both are fashion models, but she is also a social media taste/Instagram influencer/taste maker. At one point she poses before a meal that she will never eat pretending that she will eat it. She makes most of her riches modeling and mostly does the internet posing to get free stuff. One of the free things Ya Ya gets because of her Internet gig is a cruise on a luxury ship.

The main couple are not typical and the usual financial arrangements of the couple are reversed. The male model makes far less money than her (one characters says male models make a fourth of their female counterparts), and he stays at her hotel and is basically a “kept man.” Although she has much more money the pair frequently squabble over who will pay the expense dinner bills and she loves to tease and test him.

Many of the best humor scenes involve Woody Harrelson in one of his better roles. He plays a communist ship captain on the ship that the model couple are on, and he spends much of his time debating a Russian capitalist who made a fortune selling manure. Both of these pseudo intellectuals seemingly pull obscure quotes out of the air and Harrelson is clearly having a good time making the film as the audience is having watching it.

Eventually the ship crashes and the former toilet manager (who spent endless hours cleaning up the vomit of seasick rich people) is the only one who knows how to do anything so she becomes the queen of the island and she even turns Carl into a sex slave. Ya Ya does not seem overly upset because she probably just thinks of him as another piece of property anyway.

Some viewers might be put off because of the film’s 147-minute length, but this delightfully dark film never overstays its welcome. I would rather watch a five-hour cut of this film than most 90-minute Adam Sandler comedies. Like Tar, another excellent ambitious long multinational film that seems short, this movie contains some of the best scenes and most memorable characters of the year.
 

Directed & Written by:    Ruben Ostlund
Starring:    Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly de Leon
Released:    10/07/22 (USA)
Length:    147 minutes
Rating:    Rated R for language and some sexual content
Available On:    At press time it was still playing in local theatres

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

TRIANGLE OF SADNESS © 2022 Imperative Entertainment

Review © 2022 Alternate Reality, Inc.

 

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