“TRIANGLE OF SADNESS”
Rated R. At the Landmark Kendall Square.
In Ruben Ostlund’s Bunuelian Palme d’ Or winner “Triangle of Sadness” (his previous win was the 2017 release “The Square”), two young and beautiful models, one of an influencer, find themselves caught up with the super rich aboard a giant yacht that is foundering in a terrific storm. Is it a metaphor for modern life? You bet it is.
When we first meet Carl (Harris Dickinson, “The King’s Man”) and Yaya (the late Charlbi Dean), they are arguing over the check at a posh restaurant. We are told that she earns more money than he as a model and internet influencer. In opening scenes, we see what he must endure as a young male model. Carl and Yaya are soon enjoying a freebie aboard a large boat with a group of super wealthy men and women who have more money than they can keep track of and who expect to have their every whim made real. Jars of Nutella are delivered to the ship by helicopter. Paula (Vicki Berlin), the woman in charge of “services” aboard the boat, feels that making every passenger’s wish come true is her priority and the priority of every one of her workers.
Also a priority is getting the ship’s Captain (Woody Harrelson), who is on a bender, to come out of his room and fulfill his duties. Meanwhile, Dimitry (Zlatko Buric), a Russian oligarch who introduces himself as the king of excrement because he has a monopoly on fertilizer in Eastern Europe. Dimitry dotes upon his wife Vera (Sunnyi Melles), who is used to getting what she wants and this includes making a beautiful young member of the crew named Alicia (Alicia Eriksson) change places with her. An elderly British couple (Amanda Walker and Oliver Ford Davies) have made their fortune with hand grenades and land mines. Yes, we are truly aboard Plato’s allegorical ship of fools. One passenger who has had a stroke can only repeat the same phrase over and over again. During one long passage, a storm causes many passengers to vomit and defecate uncontrollably. The Captain and Dimitry argue about politics as their fellow travelers flail about in their state rooms, where the toilets begin to overflow to the strains of heavy metal in a fertilizer-stained vision of the end of the world. Did I mention pirates?
“Triangle of Sadness,” not to be confused with the tetrahedron of despair, is divided into three parts. The last of these is called “The Island,” and it might be described as the more political version of the Tom Hanks’ 2000 classic “Cast Away.” Carl, Yaya, Paula, Dimitry and a few others make it to an island, where things get very “Lord of the Flies” very quickly. This includes a brutal killing of a donkey with a rock. Abigail (a delightful Dolly De Leon), who kept the toilets clean on the ship, rules upon the island because she knows how to fish and make a fire and lives on the shore in a modestly palatial lifeboat, where she makes Carl her plaything. Yes, some of “Triangle of Sadness” can be broad. But on the whole the film is a funny and trenchant satire of our ridiculous state of affairs. The mock motto of “Triangle of Sadness” is, “Everyone’s Equal.” Has that ever been less true?
(“Triangle of Sadness” contains profanity and sexual content)