Film: Triangle of Sadness




You know a film will be far from subtle when the director says: ” I wanted to have the most vomiting that we have ever had on screen.”

The targets in Ruben Ostlund’s satirical black comedy Triangle of Sadness are the super-rich, influencers, beauty as a currency and international arms dealers, among others.

The film opens with two of the beautiful people, Yaya, top model and influencer (played by the late Charlbi Dean) and Carl, a past-his-peak male model in his mid-20s (Harris Dickinson), who are arguing – interminably – about who should pay the bill after their restaurant meal.



They end up with free passage on a $250 million yacht in exchange for Yaya’s promise to feature the yacht on her influencer pages. The yacht is captained by a permanently drunk Woody Harrelson with passengers including a Russian oligarch Dimitry (Zlatko Buric) – a waste management mogul (“I sell shit”), an arms-trading couple, Winston and Clementine, a German woman — a stroke victim who can speak only three words,  and a lonely tech millionaire.

The privileged guests are oblivious to the crew, headed by Paula (Vicki Berlin), who drills them on how they must attend to the guests’ every whim– even when one autocratic woman insists that all crew members should join them in the pool.

Highlight of the trip is the captain’s dinner. An increasingly desperate Paula hammers insistently on the captain’s cabin door as she urges him to put on his uniform and welcome the guests. Drunk as he is, the captain, when he eventually emerges, polishes up surprisingly well.



But the evening becomes increasingly chaotic as a wild storm hits the yacht, with much crashing and banging as the staff serve dish after dish of gourmet food and the diners become increasingly queasy.

Soon the captain and the Russian Dimitry are the only ones remaining at their table. While they cheerfully argue the merits of socialism and capitalism, each trying to out-do the other with famous quotes, the passengers are vomiting, defecating and sliding across the sloping, slippery floor as they try to reach their own cabins.

When morning arrives, pirates attack, killing Clementine and Winston with one of their own grenades, and capsising the yacht.

A small group of survivors, including Carl, Yaya, Dimitry, Paula and lowly cleaner Abigail (Dolly de Leon) manage to reach an island. Abigail is the only one with any survival skills and she quickly takes command, insisting that the others refer to her as captain and demanding special privileges.



This is a film with many funny moments but the satire is much too heavy-handed. 

Nevertheless, Triangle of Sadness won the top prize for Ostlund at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, putting the Swedish director in the rarified ranks of two-time Palme D’Or winners.

If you wondered about the film’s title, apparently Triangle of Sadness is the area at the top of the nose, between the eyebrows, often fixed with Botox.

Triangle of Sadness runs at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 2, to Sunday, January 8, at 8pm.

Watch the trailer…