Another good film whose trailer had me fooled: TRIANGLE OF SADNESS (2022), a movie about haves and have-nots, whether it’s beauty, love, money, or power. In this remarkable film, a beautiful couple, both of them fashion models, ultimately go on a cruise aboard a luxury yacht, only to face dire consequences that raise interesting questions about power and where it comes from. If you like similar films like THE MENU and PARASITE, which also explored class, you will likely dig this one.
Carl and Yaya are models and social media influencers. In the opening scenes, we see Carl audition to be featured in a new fashion campaign. He later attends his girlfriend Yaya’s show and takes her to dinner, only to fight over who should pay. They go on a pleasure cruise aboard a yacht, where society is fixed between out-of-touch wealthy people whose every need is catered to by a uniformed “middle class,” while a poor underclass keeps the boat running.
The movie examines power and how it derives from having or not having, whether it’s beauty, love, wealth, skills, and more, and how the value of these things changes depends on the situation, creating new power dynamics–for me, the “triangle of sadness” where no one is innocent, only having or lacking power based on the context. In one scene, a wealthy woman tells the staff to go swimming with her after having an epiphany “we are all equal,” though the staff doesn’t have a choice in obeying, reinforcing they are in fact not equal at all. In another, the Marxist boat captain and a Russian oligarch spar over ideology while discovering they are in fact equal in the lowest common denominator sense. Over time, the themes ramp up and fall squarely on the nose, though to the filmmakers’ credit, while they shout the question again and again, they don’t push any answers. And you never really feel like any of these people are despicable so much as ridiculous.
I also found the filmmaking style interesting here. It’s shot in a traditional foreign film style, with long takes and scenes that go deep into their subject, and an almost documentarian feel where you feel more like a fly on the wall than directly involved. The result is a feel where you are being told a story than experiencing it yourself, which is a bit distancing but has its charms.
Overall, I liked TRIANGLE OF SADNESS a lot. I kind of loved it. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get fooled by the trailer, which seems to promise a slapstick farce. There is far more going on here, and the real comedy is far more subtle.