Review: Triangle of Sadness

Written and directed by Ruben Östlund, a cruise for the super-rich sinks thus leaving survivors, including a fashion model celebrity couple, trapped on an island. Starring: Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Vicki Berlin, Dolly De Leon, Henrik Dorsin, Zlatko Buric, Iris Berben, Arvin Kananian, Jean-Christophe Folly, Alicia Eriksson, Sunnyi Melles and Woody Harrelson.

When you hear that a film is a Palme d’Or winner, you probably immediately connect that with hard-hitting dramas and period pieces because more often than not, they are but Triangle of Sadness fits much more comfortably alongside last year’s winner, Titane. It is outrageous, gratuitous and downright hilarious. Ruben Östlund takes a big swing at society’s obsession with wealth and beauty but he doesn’t try to make it subtle or ask you to read between the lines, he slaps you in the face with it. The great thing about that is it makes it inherently accessible for a wider audience, you can dig into it or you can just take what’s on the surface.

Something that Östlund achieves to perfection here is approaching the line of going too far, particularly with its fondness for gross comedy, but never crossing it. It plays with being ridiculous and over the top, reflecting the nature of opulent wealth. It’s an element which also bleeds into the cinematography and palette, both having a rich and luxurious quality. Östlund’s direction then satisfyingly leans into the chaos as things fall apart, it has a modern and fluid style, creating the perfect cohesion between the story and the visual. As well as hitting that disgust button, it brings through a violent touch both of which allow its comedy and themes to hit even harder. The only weakness is the ratio of time spent on its different chapters, slowing itself down a touch too much in its final scenes and losing some of its high energy.

Although you can’t even approach talking about the success of Triangle of Sadness without diving into its ensemble, which has to be one of the best pieces of casting you’ll ever see. The film is absolutely packed with fantastic actors but none more surprising and delightful than Dolly De Leon. Even amongst such big talent, she’s a huge standout because there aren’t quite adequate words for how sublime her performance is. Of course then you have a heart-breaking note in the loss of Charlbi Dean who serves such an Instagram fuelled, vain and sharp portrayal which eventually evolves into vulnerability, she clearly had a lot more to offer and this film showed that unquestionably. Harris Dickinson gets to build his comedy chops with huge notes of self-doubt, jealousy and naivety. Vicki Berlin brings a manic level of organisation and stubbornness, with her character committed to her professionalism to a fault.

Zlatko Buric and Woody Harrelson share one of the most memorable scenes of the film, descending into drunk chaos. Up until which point Harrelson had felt fairly unnecessary but he’s always got something up his sleeve. Iris Berben for the majority of film only gets to say the words ‘in den Wolken’ and yet she is utterly brilliant and that phrase will likely randomly pop into your head for weeks after you see the film. You’ll probably also struggle to get the images that Sunnyi Melles leaves you with out of your head. You could say something about every single person who appears in this film because they all have something to add, everyone has truly individual and strong personalities and they’re all a sheer joy to watch at work.

Triangle of Sadness brings Ruben Östlund to the masses, taking all of his artistic skills and translating them into a riotous comedy and comment on wealth, fame and privilege. It’s genuinely funny from start to finish, it’s shot with a stunning edge that embraces the chaotic and changing nature to its story. It holds one of the best ensemble casts ever put together on the big screen and even if you didn’t know the name Dolly De Leon before, you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. It’s a film that is sincerely worth seeing with an audience because it is such a phenomenally good time.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival 2022 – Out now in the US and coming to UK cinemas 28 October

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s