TIFF ’22: Ruben Östlund’s ‘Triangle Of Sadness’ Is An Instant Classic

Ruben Östlund delivers an ‘Eat the Rich’ satirical dark comedy with his latest film, Triangle of Sadness. Östlund refers to the stress lines on your forehead as the triangle of sadness, but what on earth could hot rich people possibly be sad about? A lot, apparently.

The film is split into three parts and opens with wannabe model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and successful influencer Yaya (Charbli Dean). Östlund examines the conversation surrounding money in a relationship, especially when one partner has more than the other. The catalyst for the first part was a dramatic argument over the hefty dinner bill after Yaya, more well-off than Carl, avoided paying. The heat of the conversation carries on after dinner in the car back to their hotel room and up the elevator, with jabs getting uglier and the volume of their voices, mostly Carl’s, getting louder. Throughout the ordeal, lengthy takes on both parties allowed Dean’s and Dickinson’s performances to flow seamlessly.

The first part was just a teaser for the truly bizarre and utterly hilarious film yet to be seen. While still following the young couple, the second part introduces us to a bigger cast on this massive, luxurious yacht cruise for the filthy rich, captained by a drunk man played by Woody Harrelson in a role that seems all too short, secluded in his bedroom. Another dinner goes awry, but this one is much worse, with vom-com at its peak. 

The chaotic adventures of the rich and the yacht’s staff continue on a deserted island for part three, where Dolly De Leon takes centre stage as Abigail. The quiet employee is no longer as she demands the leadership role for providing the most resources and skills, like starting a fire and cooking. She is ruthless and fights back ten times harder now that the social hierarchies have been flipped. 

Triangle of Sadness is many things at once; a relationship drama, a criticism of the wealthy 1% and a desert island movie. While it would have been easy for things to become muddled and uninteresting, Östlund keeps it grounded by its underlying theme that the rich are as competitive, selfish and gross as the rest of us, if not more.

The Toronto International Film Festival’s premiere was dedicated to the late Charlbi Dean, who played the lavish Yaya. She passed away in August, and it is a significant loss for everyone involved in this project and one felt throughout the theatre as it became apparent that this certainly would have been Dean’s breakout role. It’s an utterly unforgettable film with many laugh-out-loud moments that needs to be experienced.

Triangle of Sadness had its North American premiere on September 13. It hits theatres on October 7.

by Kadija Osman

Kadija Osman is based in Toronto, Ontario and is currently completing her undergrad in journalism at Ryerson University. She enjoys writing about film and TV. When she isn’t watching Timothée Chalamet’s filmography, she is probably reading romance and thriller novels or ranting about the disappointing cancellation of E!’s The Royals. Her favourite films include Kingsman: The Secret Service, Lady Bird and Ready or Not. You can find her on Twitter: @kadijaosman_ and Letterboxd

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