Triangle of Sadness

Date Shown

1st Nov 2023

Ruben Ostlund is a Swedish director with a reputation for pricking the pomposity of the ultra-rich and their privileged leisure. He first came to the attention of Cinematheque members in 2015 with his breakthrough film ‘Force Majeure’. This savagely funny tale of Tomas and Ebba, a couple with two young children at an exclusive ski resort won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Whilst eating at a terrace restaurant, the family are involved in an unexpected avalanche which swamps the diners, crashing into the tables. They are split up in the mayhem but reunited later. All is well until CCTV footage of the event shows that Tomas, rather than protecting his family, is seen legging it, leaving behind his wife and children to their possible fate. Needless to say, this doesn’t go down well with Ebba, as the rest of this very dark comedy chronicles the breakdown of their marriage, piercing commonly-held stereotypes of what a man’s role should be in the modern world.

    ‘Force Majeure’ was soon followed by ‘The Square’ (2017), a Palme D’or winner at Cannes. It follows Christian, a self-important curator of a contemporary art museum in Stockholm. In the latest exhibition a pretentious installation called ‘The Square’ is centre stage. It is Christian’s unfortunate way of publicising this piece that backfires, and in this hilariously cynical black comedy it is the modern art world and the influence of social media that are parodied mercilessly.

    Ruben Oslund cements his position as one of contemporary cinema’s leading satirists with his latest work ‘Triangle of Sadness’ (2022), that Cinematheque shows at the Swan Theatre on November 1st. Yet again a Palme D’or winner, this is a riotously funny put-down of the super-rich, online influencers, and high fashion. Beautiful couple Carl and Yaya are fashion models, offered free places on a luxury cruise. They find themselves on a super yacht with a Russian oligarch, two arms dealers, a tech millionaire and various other candidates for the worst of symbolic late capitalism. The captain (a superb Woody Harrelson) is a Marxist alcoholic, running an increasingly chaotic ship with a disgruntled immigrant crew.

   With this upstairs-downstairs set-up the inevitable disaster strikes, and everyone’s world is literally turned upside down. Moving backwards and forwards through acerbic black comedy, farce and gross-out humour, this entertaining, unsubtle satire lampoons the wealthy, bringing karma to the service workers, but it also shows that when role-reversal occurs the oppressed can quickly become the oppressors. With beauty as currency one of the shallow underlying themes, a ‘triangle of sadness’ is apparently a term used by plastic surgeons for the worry wrinkle that forms between the eyebrows, removable by botox. Following in the footsteps of Lina Wertmuller’s ‘Swept Away’ (1974) and Luis Bunuel’s ‘Exterminating Angel’ (1962), ‘Triangle of Sadness’ is a class conflict satire for our time.

Audience Reactions

  A: 18, B: 09, C: 06, D: 04, E: 0


A: Loved it! So many wonderful vignettes cleverly stitched together (A) Entertainingly funny. (A) Great film (A) Brilliant portrayal of the idiocy of the trappings of ‘success’! (A) Very unusual & fascinating approach. (A) Wonderful humour and well acted. Splendid in so many ways (A) Lord of the Flies adaption? Was Abigail Roger? (A) Brilliantly funny & ironic film – enjoyed every minute. (A) Lots of questions & as usual too few answers! Almost needed to be that long – give or take a vomit or two. At least a lot of smiles & can see why it won that award! (A)

B: Dinner with the captain was great! (B) Bizarre, entertaining and savage. (B) Impressive satire.(B) Brilliant! Totally bonkers. (B) Entertaining. (B) A great evening of cinema: but who does rule the world?

C: Bizarre…but I was hooked…. who knew we’d end up with Lord of the Flies -? (C) Far too log! (C) Pretty strange & very funny – but not sure what my lasting impression is!(C) Some good images but not funny enough and too long. The Admirable Crichton seventy years ago did it better! (C) Another seriously bizarre offering! Too long but good in parts. A leveller, but it’s put me off cruising (C)

D: Too long. Sick – lavatory scenes too graphic. I won’t be booking a cruise anytime soon!! (D) Good start but too long! V. Random! (D)

IMDB details

Triangle of Sadness | September 18, 2022 (Greece) 7.3


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Handsome Crew Man
The Captain

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Countries: United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Turkey, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland, MexicoLanguages: English, Swedish, German, French, Greek, Tagalog, AkanBudget: €10,000,000 (estimated)

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