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Film Review: Triangle of Sadness
by Pat Frickey

Ruben Östlund, Sweden, France, UK, Germany, Turkey, Greece 2022

If you are delighted by a film that also disgusts you, this is the one for you. Obviously, the jury in Cannes thought so, they awarded it the Palme d'Or in 2022. The Filmfest Hamburg (FF HH) journalists who I joined for a showing screamed with delight watching the slapstick antics aboard a yacht of socialite Vera (Sunnyi Melles) sliding on what was left of her regurgitated dinner on the head floor. Highbrow this humor is certainly not, but it’s the first time I have ever experienced an audience of journalists react so viscerally to a film in the ten years I have attended the FF HH press showings.

Director-writer Östlund packed a lot into this black comedy which could easily have been three separate self-contained movies. Part One shows the glittery surface and secret underbelly of the world of high fashion. Models Yaya (Charlbi Dean*) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) inhabit this world of very beautiful people. Turns out Carl’s not quite as beautiful and in demand as Yaya, which puts a strain on their relationship. Part Two finds the couple on a luxury yacht with a marvelous potpourri of obnoxiously rich, and not so beautiful people. (This is where Vera shines, so to speak.) Russian oligarch Dimitry (Zlatko Buric) and the perpetually drunk captain (Woody Harrelson) get into a drinking contest quoting Karl Marx among swigs as the yacht bobs helplessly in the storm. Part Three finds the couple stranded with a few of the guests and crew on a deserted island. Now the command is passed onto a lowly crew member Abigail (Dolly de Leon) who astonishingly has all the survival skills they need to stay alive. To Abigail it is irrelevant that handsome Carl is merely a substandard B-lister. Yaya, beware!

*Charlbi Dean died unexpectedly just before the release of the film on August 29,2022, at the age of 32 in New York City.