Any film that comes with a title card informing us of it’s status as the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or (their highest award) has considerable cache to the film community. Compound that with the painful tragedy that is the untimely death of lead actress Charlbi Dean and you have a recipe for a film that should be at the top of most awards consideration.
Triangle of Sadness follows a luxury yacht on which is male model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and his influencer girlfriend Yaya (Dean), Russian oligarch and self professed capitalist Dimitry (Zlatko Burić), Marxist Captain Thomas (Woody Harrelson) and a smattering of others. The rich are oblivious to the working class and that can only spell disaster.
Writer-director Ruben Östlund is adept at this kind of cringe satire, and has clearly set his sights on an over-the-top satire of the rich and clueless. Dickinson is good as the pretty boy without much going on, often trying to appear to be more progressive than he actually is, while Dean grounds the film as his influencer girlfriend who actually holds more power than she often wants to admit.
The first third, detailing their relationship of convenience isn’t always the most thrilling, as the two can be at times very unlikeable but it’s held together by the magnetism of Dean, who is already a huge loss to the industry. Once we move into the more overtly ridiculous second act where the yacht comes into play things become belly achingly funny. It’s a gross-out absurdist take of the mega-wealthy and one that Östlund is clearly relishing with everything he has.
The final third belongs to Dolly de Leon who deserves to be in serious awards consideration. She has easily the role that could see her break out into international features and it would be well deserved for her commitment to taking every scene from everyone else.
If there is a flaw the film is at times a little long, and the first third is nowhere near as compelling as the second two, nor does it really aid in anything that we discover later on. It also has a fairly abrupt ending which some may find to be somewhat unsatisfying, and yet the sheer joy of watching that middle section is so painfully enjoyable it’s hard not to get a kick out of a drunk Woody Harrelson quoting Karl Marx over a tannoy while people slide around during a storm.
This could potentially be a big breakout film, mixing easy to enjoy slapstick with a jet black satirical heart that might just get people thinking before the film ends. It’s one that will endure, and is easily one of the years best films. Go in knowing as little as possible and enjoy the madness that follows.