The Reel Review
Class warfare takes center stage in this satirical takedown of the super-rich, when a couple of supermodels, one of whom is also a social media influencer, are invited on an all-expenses-paid cruise on a luxury mega yacht which ends in disaster. The film stars Harris Dickinson (See How They Run, The King’s Man) and Charlbi Dean (Black Lightning) as the supermodels and Woody Harrelson as the captain of the ill-fated ship.
Told by Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund (The Square, Force Majeure) in three acts, Triangle of Sadness focuses on three classes of people – the selfish, out-of-touch, super wealthy passengers who contribute little to society while living off the labor of others; the yacht’s client-facing, tip-obsessed, middle class white crew; and the unseen people of color silently working for minimum wage in the bowels of the boat. When a storm disrupts dinner on the ship, the veneer of opulence is gruesomely stained as the body fluids start to fly – literally – in one of the more disgusting and queasy moments in recent cinematic history.
While the story does have some hilarious and inciteful moments exploring social politics and the more revolting transactional aspects of human nature, Östlund’s film is all too often overly blunt to the point of tedium and clunky in its execution, devolving into a humorless diatribe in its last hour. Dickinson and the late Dean – in what was to have been her big breakout role – are both convincing, with Dolly De Leon (Verdict) stealing the show in the third act as the Filapina toilet manager who suddenly calls the shots when it becomes clear that she is the only one of the shipwrecked crew and passengers who possesses necessary survival skills. The servant is master now.
• Triangle of Sadness was winner of the grand prize, the Palme d’Or, at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in May 2022. Östlund also won the top prize in 2017 for his art world satire, The Square.
• South African Charlbi Dean, 32, died unexpectedly of bacterial sepsis in New York City on August 22, 2022, shortly before the film’s international release. Dean had lost her spleen in a very serious 2009 car accident and had recently been engaged to marry her boyfriend, model Luke Volker.
• Triangle of Sadness was filmed in three sections – two in Sweden and one in Greece – over a year-long period during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The yacht scenes were shot over nine days on the Cristina O, the former yacht of the Onassis family, wrapping the day before another lockdown came into effect. It currently costs $609,000 to rent the Christina O for a week.