“So, is this runway casting for a grumpy brand or a smiley brand?”, asks a blond guy some topless male models. Carl (Harris Dickinson, seen in «Beach Rats» by Eiza Hittman) is one of the beaus. The casting director isn’t happy with his looks. He wants him to relax the part between his eyebrows, the so called “triangle of sadness”.
Indeed, this film will make you relax your triangle of sadness. More than make you laugh, it will also make you think about the white supremacy, class privileges of the rich and beautiful and how all the capitalist system is money-obsessed and rests on a stable and safe economy, not exactly the situation faced by the passengers of a 250 million $ yacht, which gets in a terrible storm.
Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (the second Palme d’Or for Ruben Östlund after «The Square» in 2017) the film has a wonderful cast: From the good looking Carl (Harris Dickinson) and his even more astonishing girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean, a 32 year old, tragically deceased South African model and actress) to the overweight and extremely rich Russian capitalist Dimitry (Zlatko Burić) and his wives Vera (Swiss actress Sunnyi Melles) and Ludmilla (Carolina Gynning) to the chief stew Paula (Vicki Berlin), the handicapped german woman Therese (Iris Berben), who’s only words are “In den Wolken” and the constantly drunk American and communist captain of the ship, Thomas (Woody Harrelson). Let’s not forget the lower staff, like the cleaning lady Abigail (Dolly De Leon) or the cute yacht stewardess (Hanna Oldenburg) forced to say YES to a dip in the pool by Vera or the handsome crewman (Timoleon Gketsos), who dared cleaning the deck topless and earned Yaya’s smile and Carl’s jealousy before getting fired…
A storm will bring the little high society in extreme jeopardy. On the night of the “Captain’s Dinner” almost all passengers throw up. When the sea finally calms down again British lady Clementine (Amanda Walker) discovers a hand grenade on her balcony and is happy to show it to her husband and weapon fabricant Winston (Oliver Ford Davies) saying: “Look, it’s one of ours!”, before it detonates and destroys half of the ship.
The ensuing shipwreck changes the situation completely. Only a hand few of passengers and crew members survive and form a base camp on an island. The so far totally disregarded and unimportant toilet manager Abigail suddenly becomes necessary to the survival in the hostile environment: She’s the only, who can fish and make fire properly and turns into the matriarch, who feeds her “kids” in exchange of goods (Patek Philipp and Rolex watches) and services: Carl is invited to share her lifeboat. Much to Yaya’s anger a sexual affair develops between Carl and the more mature Abigail. One morning, Yaya knocks on the lifeboat of the two love birds and asks for a backpack, saying she wants to hike through the island. Abigail insists on accompanying her, judging the jungle too dangerous for the frail and somehow naive influencer Yaya. The two women hike through a mountain cliff and when they reach the other island shore they discover a beach with an elevator leading to a luxury resort. Yaya is euphoric and Abigail understands that her time as big boss is over.
Östlund’s grotesque tragicomedy unveils the abysses of the rich and beautiful and the extreme fragility of the class system. During the stormy night, the capitalist Russian Dimitry and the communist American captain Thomas battle with jokes about their respective ideologies. The power of the rich white males is also questioned after the shipwreck. Now the women are ruling, lead by a “toilet manager” who knows how to survive in the wild.
This film will make you laugh and think about society and privileges. Shortly after getting awarded in Cannes, the news of Charlbi Dean’s death shocked audiences across the globe. The 32 year old model and star of “Triangle of Sadness” was suffering from an infection when she entered a New York hospital last summer and died there soon after (causes of death remain unknown). It’s always heartbreaking to discover a young and promising person star posthumously in a movie – think of Heath Ledger, who played the joker in «The Dark Knight». We will remember Charlbi Dean as the pearl, who shines in this cinematographic jewel.