“Triangle of Sadness” is a geometric enigma

Triangle of Sadness (Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly De Leon, Woody Harrelson) – No way does this quirk of a film deserve to be one of the 10 films nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. Maybe it’s just me. No stars; ridiculous storyline; unresolved ending. Yuck! But OK, here goes:

In Part One, we find out what the “triangle of sadness” is and meet Yaya (Charlbi Dean), a supermodel, and her boyfriend, Carl (Harris Dickinson), an aspiring model. They aren’t the happiest of couples. Together, in Part Two, they go on an exclusive yacht cruise with a bunch of ultrarich international egotists, none of whom have redeeming qualities. The cruise’s nameless captain, played by Woody Harrelson, is a drunk who never leaves his cabin.  The cruise staff, envisioning a big payday at the end, is trained to say “yes” to everything the guests want … and I mean everything. By the time the guests show up at the Captain’s dinner, they seem oblivious to the storm raging around them. 

Soon enough, as the gourmet food is ingested, prolific projectile vomiting ensues. As the ship rocks relentlessly, the sewage system backs up, passengers roll down the stairs, and almost everyone is sick. Then come the pirates, who throw a hand grenade on board, causing an explosion and sinking the ship.

Part Three follows the survivors, which include Yaya, Carl, the head steward, a stroke survivor, and a half dozen others, to the shore of a seemingly deserted island. They are a useless group of rich losers except for Abigail (Dolly De Leon), the “toilet lady,” a low-level member of the crew who quickly takes over because she can start a fire, forage for food, and demonstrate survivor skills. It’s a stunning turnaround – the people used to barking orders are now at the mercy of the least rich around them. Abigail plays it for all its worth, including turning Carl into a sex slave. I won’t give away the last part of the film, but I promise it isn’t very satisfying.

The lovers of the film consider it a hysterical satire targeting the entitled and privileged. Dolly De Leon’s performance is excellent and earned her a Golden Globe supporting actress nomination. I even concede that there are funny moments in this extraordinarily dark comedy. The Swedish filmmaker, Ruben Östlund, received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, too. The film won the Palme D’or, the top award at Cannes, garnering an 8-minute standing ovation. His previous film, Square, also won the Palme D’or. I must be missing something.

Maybe I am just not sophisticated enough or just can’t relate to the biting satire. I thought it was a colossal waste of time. But if you are willing to spend two-and-a-half hours, you can rent the film on Prime Video for $5.99 and stop any time you like.

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