Triangle of Sadness draws attention to its irreverence

Each edition of the Cannes Film Festival has its film darling of the public, critics, which shocks, which surprises. Rarely, all the qualities are summed up in a single film. That was the case with “Parasite” in 2019, but not the case with “Titanium” in 2021, which to this day divides who loves and who hates.

“Triangle of Sadness” (in loose translation, “Triangle of Sadness”), by Swede Ruben Östlund, manages to be the rare film that brings together all Cannes 2022 audiences. from the gala session, for selected guests from all over the world cinema, as well as in sessions for the press and critics. But the great thermometer if a film really likes is if it is applauded in an open scene, that is to say during a scene. And “Triangle of Sadness” has been repeatedly applauded in several sequences that touch the heart of an audience immersed in a hypocritical, racist, classist and greedy consumer society.

Ostlund, who had already stretched the ropes with the controversial “The Square” (Palm d’Or in 2017), has stretched the ropes again with the new film. He tramples on our worst moral and social pettiness to, in the tone of Molière, make the public laugh at himself. After all, let’s face it, it’s not the festival’s maintenance or cleaning team, much less the kitchens of the many crowded restaurants in the French city, that win invitations to the event’s sessions.

But speaking of the plot, “Triangle of Sadness” already in its name plays with irony. The term refers to the forehead wrinkles we make when we frown. And that happens early in the film, when an evaluator asks the young model played by young Carl (Harris Dickinson) to pay more attention to his triangle of sadness.

Shortly after, the shorts triangle, or sadness, appears on a cruise Carl is on with his girlfriend, influencer, and model Yaya (Charlbi Dean). Frequented by the super-rich (the young couple are within the quota of the famous, who get benefits in exchange for their famous presence), the ship should be under the orders of a captain attentive and careful with the GDP of its population. Instead. Accustomed masterfully by Woody Harrelson, the captain is an American Marxist who prefers to spend his time drinking and discussing politics with a Russian capitalist magnate. Harrelson, moreover, questioned by the press, called himself an anarchist.

All is well, or almost, until one night, a storm brings the rich, arrogant and greedy hosts to the brink of shipwreck. What would be the pompous dinner with the Captain becomes a “shit show” of vomiting. The storm worsens and the ship’s sewage erupts, spreading the “m” everywhere. The boat is attacked by pirates and sinks.

The survivors, in an allegory of society itself, are walking archetypes. The beautiful influencer model, but helpless in an environment where you have to fish for your own food. The young model who, outside the urban environment, is anything but alpha. The black engine room worker who is seen by the Russian fertilizer tycoon as a pirate in disguise. The team leader who, although in rags and without food, does not come down from the station and thinks that she can continue to lead the Asian head of cleaning.

Because the Asian is the only one to fish, know how to make fire and survive in the inhospitable environment of the island. The reversal of power, gender roles and influence is masterfully crafted under the precise hand of Ostlund. Anyone who’s seen “The Square” knows what to expect. The director distils sarcasm, irony and stretches out the most uncomfortable scenes so that the public lives intensely his own mediocrity projected on the screen.

“Triangle of Sadness” has, in its favor, in addition to the critical and acid gaze of a society which “comes back because it has gone wrong”, humor. The long sequence of 15 minutes of the failed dinner cries with laughter, but also wants to vomit. Wouldn’t that be the perfect metaphor for our society today?

The dynamics established on the island reveal that power and influence are a matter of context and that the humbled will not necessarily be wiser and/or more humble if they rise to positions of power. Man is man’s wolf, isn’t he? It failed to quote Thomas Hobbes in the battle of quotes between the Russian and the captain.

Precise direction, good timing (if a bit overstretched), and a sharp cast made “Triangle of Sadness” the most famous film in official competition at Cannes 2022 to date. The week is still long until the awards ceremony on Saturday (28), but we already have a certainty. If he does not leave with another Palme d’Or, at least one Grand Jury Prize will leave the Swede.

Leave a Comment