“Without Filter”, a satire of the ultra-rich and class relations in Western societies, with humor as Marxist as it is corrosive, arrives in theaters on Wednesday after winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes.
A cross between “Titanic” and “La Grande Bouffe”, the film has allowed the Swede Ruben Östlund to enter the restricted club of filmmakers who have won double palms at Cannes, alongside the Dardenne brothers, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke. He had already obtained the title in 2017 for “The Square”, a full attack on the vanity that can surround contemporary art.
This time, he embarks his spectators for 02:30 on a crazy luxury cruise alongside a model, Carl, and his girlfriend, Yaya, a top model and influencer, obsessed with her image and her career.
The release of the film was hit by the sudden death, at only 32 years old, at the end of August, of the South African actress who plays this main character, Charlbi Dean.
For her final role, she rubs shoulders aboard the yacht of “Sans Filtre” with a gallery of extremely wealthy characters: alcoholic Russian oligarchs, charming couple of British retirees who have made their fortune in the sale of anti-personnel mines and other obnoxious passengers… They harass the leader of the crew of their whims, while the latter in turn martyrizes the small staff.
But a big storm – about which the captain of the boat does not care, a totally drunk Marxist at the crucial moment – will rock the ship and upset this balance.
– “Keep your composure” –
In a sort of inverted “Titanic”, where this time the weakest are not necessarily the losers, Ruben Östlund, 48, dissects the springs of class from top to bottom: the rich against the poor, but also men against women, and whites against blacks.
A concern at the center of his work, explained the director to AFP in Cannes. “I think humans are very sensitive to hierarchies, we are conditioned for the great + social game + from our birth”, he assures, “every day the question is + what is my position in the social hierarchy? +”.
Raised by a communist mother in the 70s and 80s when “it was really one bloc against another”, the Swede calls himself “socialist”: “I believe in a strong state and a mixed economy”.
The character of Carl, with whom Östlund has “identified a lot”, never ceases to seek “equality” in his relationships, including with his companion, who is more famous and better paid than him.
With him as with other protagonists of the film, Östlund excels, as in “Snow Therapy” or “The Square”, in dissecting the small cowardices which always adapt better to propriety than to the truth.
A scene of generalized seasickness, scatological as one might wish, will put even the most armored stomachs to the test: “in the scene where everyone vomits, this is what is at stake: everyone tries to keep their composure, to hold your fork”, explains Ruben Östlund.
Harris Dickinson, who plays Carl, adds: “It’s very provocative, of course, it’s political, but beyond that Ruben in his scenario pushes our behavior, our morals, our sense of propriety to the limit”.
Even the character of Yaya, resigned to becoming a “trophy woman”, “may seem superficial, but in fact I think she is afraid of her future, in an industry where you have a very short career”, had assured AFP Charlbi Dean, in Cannes.
Willingly caricatural and outrageous, Ruben Östlund takes great care to also scratch the weak, as wicked and mediocre as the powerful. And quick to abuse power in turn as soon as they get it.
We wish to give thanks to the writer of this write-up for this remarkable content
The Palme d’Or for humor “Without Filter” arrives in theaters