“Triangle of Sadness”: the cruise abuses

Carl is a model. When we meet him, he stands with colleagues who, like him, show off their various looks, pectoral games and other pouts. Carl is aware of being an object and plays it, but his success is mixed. Quite the opposite of Yaya, her model and influencer lover. In Triangle of Sadness (Without filter), we follow their evolution, or regression, aboard a superyacht in the company of handpicked guests, including a Russian oligarch and a couple of arms dealers, not to mention the Marxist captain. However, after having fun, the cruise will sober up during an evening rich in twists and turns… and jets of excrement. Yes, the satire of Ruben Östlund, winner of the last Palme d’or, is designed to shock everyone and their fellow man.

It must be said that in terms of satire, the Swedish filmmaker is already a master figure after the remarkable force majeurewhere a man’s cowardice and selfishness are revealed to his family during an avalanche, and The Square, also a winner of the Palme d’Or and who is scratching the art industry. Scathing and very focused on dark humour, Ruben Östlund here reaches a kind of paroxysm as his approach proves to be die-hard.

This explaining that, Triangle of Sadness cannot — and does not want, it will be argued — to please everyone.

During the second act, the director and screenwriter seems to challenge the audience squarely: the challenge to feel empathy towards a gallery of characters presented as superficial and unsympathetic, then miserable and almost endearing; to the challenge of continuing to subscribe, according to one’s personal allegiance, to a right or left ideology, each seeing its potential excesses exposed; challenged to keep watching, period.

Because, we repeat, the film intentionally provokes, not hesitating to – literally – put the characters’ noses in their poo. Moreover, the last night on the ship turns into a veritable pandemonium of vomit and diarrhoea.

Only here, Ruben Östlund is not done with his horrible beautiful people.

shudder, laugh, reflect

So here are shipwrecked guests and crew members with a maid, the only one of the lot capable of catching fish. The servant thus passes from negligible quantity to dictator.

This third act is brilliant in many respects, but turns out to be long and, at times, redundant (conversely, the first act could have been fleshed out more so much the dynamic between Carl and Yaya is fascinating, with in particular this audacious commentary on a fairness with variable geometry).

The third part also recalls Lina Wertmüller’s masterpiece Towards an unusual destiny on the blue waves of summer, where a capitalist heiress sees the dominant-dominated roles reversed after being stranded on a desert island in the company of a communist sailor. However, Ruben Östlund’s aims are different. In that he refuses to sanctify the right or the left, the rich or the poor. His film is more like a proof by the absurd that with even an iota of power, anyone is likely to turn into a potentate.

From then on, the filmmaker observes how the surrounding ecosystem is reorganized, the different individuals seeking either to maintain or to increase their advantages. Thus Carl was quick to use his advantageous physique as a bargaining chip, among other examples. As Ruben Östlund explained to us in an interview: “Above all, I didn’t want to offer yet another story where the poor are necessarily nice and sincere and where the rich are necessarily mean and deceitful. In the end, it all depends on the position you occupy within the structure of the moment: that’s really what the film is about. »

It’s best just to laugh

Concerted, the staging willingly amplifies the grotesque of certain situations by resorting to unusual, even outrageous, camera angles. Hence the original title, Sadness (“ sadness “), arising from the fact that the spectacle of human nature is desolate, no matter the angle from which it is considered, precisely. So better laugh it off.

The compositions often echo the positioning of everyone in the fluctuating social order. By its (relative) sobriety, the interpretation prevents the proposal from falling into caricature.

Ettore Scola, that ofAwful, dirty and wicked at least, would no doubt have applauded the result, rightly, moreover, Triangle of Sadness simultaneously managing to make you think, giggle and shudder.

Without filter (VO s.-tf and VF of Triangle of Sadness)


Satirical comedy by Ruben Östlund. With Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly de Leon, Zlatko Burić, Henrik Dorsin, Vicki Berlin, Woody Harrelson. France, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, 2022, 149 minutes. Indoors. The film has been presented in VO since October 14, in VO s.-tf on October 21, then in VF on October 28.

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“Triangle of Sadness”: the cruise abuses