Triangle of Sadness

A luxury cruise gone horribly wrong in comical ways.

When “Triangle of Sadness” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last summer, it received a standing ovation from the audience, while informing us that there would be a scene when people suffer from vomiting and diarrhea on a cruise. Those people are rich people, ones who would either just take pictures of their food instead of eating them or formally ran a company that sold hand grenades.

I like to consider snobby rich people “Star-Bellied Sneetches.” From Dr. Seuss, “The Sneetches” was a story about yellow birds with stars who thought they were better than the ones without stars. And then when a machine gives or takes away their stars, things spin out of control, until they learn a valuable lesson about equality. From my philosophy, these kinds of people probably won’t learn about equality. And I can only use the word “snotty” to describe those kind of people.

The story is told in three parts, like the angles of a triangle. Hence the title: “Triangle of Sadness.” Parts of the movie are vague, but other parts are damn entertaining, as they represent karma, social order, and authority. Writer/director Ruben Ostlund (“Force Majeure,” “The Square”) makes the subject matter his own satire, which has you reading between the lines.

We start off with a couple, or at least we think they’re a couple. I’m not 100% sure. There’s Carl (Harris Dickinson) and his model date Yara (the recently departed Charlbi Dean), who both argue about who can pick up the check at a fancy dinner. And they have an argument where Yara is in an elevator, and Carl keeps opening the doors trying to get things straight.

Next, we find them on a luxury cruise, whose Marxist Captain (Woody Harrelson) is less responsible than his crew, particularly the head Paula (Vicki Berlin). When oysters, caviar, fried octopus, and other seafoods are served, and a storm brews in, well, you better have a strong stomach. At least, the captain has the good sense to order a burger and fries, because he doesn’t want to eat like the rich.

And finally, we see the mismatched couple, and a few other survivors on an island. The toilet cleaner Abigail (Dolly De Leon) knows how to start a fire and feed them fish, and decides to become the leader of group, giving them responsibilities.

I saw “Triangle of Sadness” with a big crowd, who were even interested in seeing the vomiting. But I’m sure they were also interested in how Ostlund pokes fun at the rich and spoiled. I doubt they went because Harrelson advertised in the poster and trailer, although he’s viciously deadpan in his role. I can’t speak for the audience, but we are going to have mixed reactions. We’re either going to think it brilliant, its good, it’s gross, or it doesn’t reach as high as it should.

From my perspective, the young couple bickering scenes are a little over the top and some parts aren’t clear, but the rest had me interested and laughing. I was able to see the comedy, even through the sea sickness and pathos. Or I guess sea sickness would be considered pathos.

It’s longer than “New Order,” which represented itself as hate letter toward the rich, and was declared one of Mexico’s hated movies. “Triangle of Sadness” wants to teach these people a lesson in their social order. But I don’t want to turn against everyone. I know there are still good people, regardless of race and class. I only judge people on their actions. I’m saying this out of respect, not vanity.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Now Playing in New York and Los Angeles

Expanding Throughout the Month

Categories: comedy, Drama

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