Triangle of Sadness is an upcoming satirical dark comedy by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, a rising name in international cinema. His breakthrough film was Force Majeure (2014), about a family vacationing in the Alps. When an apparent avalanche starts to approach, Thomas abandons his family and only tries to save himself. Of course, they all survive, and Thomas must explain why he voluntarily left his family for dead.
Following Force Majeure, Östlund made The Square (2017), a satire about the absurdities of the art world, and his latest film Triangle of Sadness — both of which won Cannes Film Festival’s highest prize, the Palme d’Or. With a string of three straight successes, Östlund has become well known for his biting dark comedy and social critiques. Because his new movie is entirely in English and is getting a serious theatrical release in the United States and other English-speaking countries, it’s the perfect time to give the director a shot.
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Here’s everything we know about Triangle of Sadness.
Triangle of Sadness: The Plot
Like Östlund’s previous films, Triangle of Sadness is a biting social satire, this time of the obscenely rich and famous. The film follows supermodel couple Carl and Yaya, who are invited on a cruise for the ultra-rich. On board the luxury yacht, they meet a colorful cast of characters, including a Russian oligarch, a British arms dealer, and the ship’s Marxist captain.
Here, the customer is always right — even when they are completely and utterly wrong. The ship’s crew is prohibited from ever saying “no” to any of the passengers’ ridiculous demands. In one scene, a rich woman insists that she wants to watch the crew clean the ship’s sails, even after she’s told the boat is motorized and has no sails. Eventually, the captain smiles and lies to her, telling her they’ll wash the non-existent sails as if he were talking to a toddler.
At first, the cruise seems like a digital influencer’s dream for Carl and Yaya, with its beautiful interior, high-class dining, and pristine views of the ocean. However, when the yacht is slammed by a terrible storm, the veneer of civility fades away, and the affluent passengers face the greatest (and perhaps first) challenge of their lives. They’re tossed around the ship helplessly, start vomiting like a fire hose, and are eventually stranded on an island when the ship sinks. Here they have to somehow survive, like The Lord of the Flies but with helpless adults instead of children.
Triangle of Sadness: The Cast
The central couple is composed of male model Carl, played by Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Where the Crawdads Sing), and female model Yaya, played by Charlbi Dean, a South African actress and model best known for her role in the superhero drama series Black Lightning. Tragically, Dean passed away in late August at the age of 32, while the movie was being promoted. The cause of death is still unknown, and the autopsy has not yet been completed. However, she was found at the hospital to have had a viral infection in her lungs, possibly related to a 2008 accident that resulted in her spleen being removed, making her more vulnerable to infections.
Thomas Smith, the ship’s charming Marxist captain, is played by Woody Harrelson (True Detective, Natural Born Killers). In addition, there is an impressive international ensemble cast that includes Scottish actress Amanda Walker (28 Weeks Later), English actor Oliver Ford Davies (Game of Thrones), the Croatian-Danish Zlatko Burić (Pusher), the German Iris Berben (Krupp: A Family Between War and Peace), the Filipina Dolly de Leon (Verdict), the Danish Vicki Berlin (The Killing), the Swedish Henrik Dorsin (Solsidan), the French Jean-Christophe Folly (Montparnasse Bienvenüe), and the Hungarian-Swiss Sunnyi Melles (The Baader Meinhof Complex).
Triangle of Sadness is set to release theatrically on October 7, 2022, in the United States. The film will be distributed by Neon, a company that has built its brand on distributing small, independent, unusual, and international films that might otherwise struggle to get a theatrical release in the United States. Some of Neon’s most notable recent films include I, Tonya (2017), Parasite (2019), The Worst Person in the World (2021), and this year David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future and the David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream.
Everything Else We Know
Triangle of Sadness has been making the rounds at several international film festivals, including Cannes, Toronto, and soon New York, where it has been, for the most part, well received. Some have lambasted the director’s criticism of the rich for lacking subtlety but nevertheless praise the comedy. It currently holds a 70% on RottenTomatoes.
Reportedly, parts of the movie were filmed on the Christina O, the real luxury yacht of shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy, who married Onassis five years after the death of her previous husband, President John F. Kennedy.