Told in three chapters, Triangle of Sadness follows model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and social influencer Yaya (Charlbi Dean) as they embark on a luxury cruise which caters to the ultra-wealthy. Led by an inebriated and bitter captain (Woody Harrelson), this is a trip that celebrates excessive living, even if it exemplifies inequality. However, when irresponsibility leads to destruction at the high seas, the guests and crew find themselves forced to re-evaluate their positions in life and stature.
Directed by Ruben Ostland, Triangle of Sadness is fueled by an inner fury more than it is deep-seeded sorrow. Set primarily on an elegant cruise ship off the coast of France, this is a space for the cultural elite to have their every desire met. Through his extended use of long takes and, he wants the viewer to feel uncomfortable. Admittedly, there are moments when the film feels long. (Clocking in at almost 2 ½ hours, one cannot help but feel that some of these conversations could be cut down.) Nevertheless, there is no question that the decision is intentional. With lengthy conversations arguing the benefits of both Marxism and capitalism, Sadness understands the complexities of social agreement.
On this ship, everyone believes in equality. But whether or not they’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve it are up for debate.
Sharply written, Triangle of Sadness is a savage satire that delves deeply into the brutality of financial inequity and its effect on those in poverty. Ostlund pulls no punches in his arguments yet does so with such humour that the film feels more clever than heavy-handed. As such, Sadness may be the tale of a sinking ship but, more importantly, its conversations hold water.
Triangle of Sadness is now playing at ‘TIFF 22. For screening information, click here.