Ruben Ostlund continues his exploration of weird and uncomfortable situations in the upper classes of society in this well crafted film. It's entertaining to see the reversal of the roles people assume when a situation changes, but Triangle of Sadness is not about that alone. Don't misunderstand me, of course that is part of the plot, but I believe that message is entirely different.
During the second segment of the film this idea of separation between lower and higher is taken further by the Captain of the boat and the Russian millionaire. In an interesting exchange of quotes by famous people both of them state what the film is about - the entrapment of the individual in the dysfunctional political systems. Both of the characters expose the shortcomings of the dominating societal systems underlining the conundrum of the contemporary individual in general. In particular, contemporary societies are facilitating between communist or capitalist systems but both of. them are not perfect. One of them us utopia of choices, the other one is dystopia of limitations.
The third part of the film takes place on an island. Here the sterileness of the communist ideology is unraveled. Communism is not possible as an alternative to the human condition because it's not practical. The reason being: human nature. Individuals want to be recognized for their abilities and the qualities and knowledge they have compared to their peers. This drive eventually leads to desire for power and/or greed.
Therefore, the first segment of the film depicting the fashion world exposes the teeth of capitalism. The last segment of the film depicting the island survival exposes the root canal of communism (to stay with the dental analogy). The first sequence shows that capitalism has a tunnel vision focusing on dollar/euro sign. The last sequence shows that communism has a tunnel vision enhanced by the complete misunderstanding of human nature.
As such, these are the two parts of the triangle of sadness leaving the individual to be the third angle. The middle/yacht segment of the film shows humans trapped in between two entities. Trapped in between both political systems, tapped in their societal roles, and most importantly trapped in unhappiness not knowing how to escape it.
Now the downside. Regardless of the profound message the film felt episodic. The presence of the two main actors in all three parts did not feel sufficient enough to form a cohesive whole of connected sequences. The breaking down of the film into parts enhanced that feeling.
Another area that the film could have done better in is cinematography. Digital cinematography can feel cartoonist, which Triangle of Sadness escaped for most of the time. However, the film felt stale. One can argue that this is intentional and represents the staleness of the above discussed political situations. I don't think is that easy. I saw only one moving shot - Paula walking in the yacht hallway towards the captain's cabin. This shot felt so alive compare to the rest of the film that it stood out right away and engage me in participation. I wished that contemporary filmmakers with designated budget utilize the technologies available to them and don't take the easy way out. The presence of moving camera will enhance audience engagement and please film buffs.
Regardless of these two points the film is worth seeing.
Director: Ruben Ostlund
Starring: Charlbi Dean, Harris Dickinson, Dolly De Leon, Vicki Berlin