Given the stark imagery that the phrase “eat the rich” conjures up in the mind, is it even possible that a satire that takes that sentiment as its main comedic driving force is even more subtle? Or more accurately, should he even want to be, when the current era has shown that the disparity between the extravagantly rich and the declining working class has only widened and understandably become ridiculous?
In the spirit of Cannes darling Ruben Ostlund, when the target of his confusing employment of his signature cringe-worthy comedy is the idle rich and their usual levels of luxury and comfort, he prefers to aim for the nose with restraint. of an executioner dropping the ax during a beheading. His last, Palme d’Or triangle of sadness, has no subtle note in its entire storyline, which presents its audience with the metaphorical takeaways wanted in such a weighty way that it could easily be misconstrued as disrespecting its audience. . Again, befitting Ostlund’s cultured brand, its utter lack of subtlety is also inexplicably its most daring strength.
The film initially focuses on the tumultuous relationship between a power couple within the vainly hollow industry of commercialized aesthetics. It is divided into a triptych of misfortune, which ostensibly represents the titular triangle. (In the parlance of the film, it refers to a tasteless modeling industry term for the area connecting the eyes and the bridge of the nose.) Introduced amidst the broadcast of a power imbalance, which becomes thematically revamped in the many outrageous turns that Triangle takes, the cheeky bickering between Carl and Yaya (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean, in what tragically became her final film role) over who makes more money (her being a highly sought-after social media influencer and him being a model struggling male) and what exactly each gets out of the relationship begins Ostlund’s latest on a solid footing in familiar territory.
Buoyed by the excellent chemistry of Dean and Dickinson, who make meals out of the boiling emotional feuds they share, Triangle immediately recalls the disturbing pain and embarrassment of being honest with everyone who has been weaponized to unbearable effect in force majeure. Teaming up again with cinematographer Fredrik Wenzel, Ostlund favors visual stillness with his almost exclusively still camera, dwelling on his characters and the pregnant woman interrupting the tension of their arguing causes. An early climax of a stunning, dragging argument over a dinner check between the two separated by a hotel elevator constantly trying to close allows the cast and director to undermine the emotional tension with utter absurdity.
The film initially presents the strife of Yaya and Carl’s disintegrating union as a mildly scathing indictment of the sentimentality of those whose income is tied to their looks, but Ostlund grows broader and more absurd with later chapters that squarely target the super-rich. A rather bloated second chapter about a luxury yacht populated by upper-class caricatures drawn so broadly they look like walking punchlines – a Russian capitalist (Zlatko Burić) who made his fortune selling “crap” ( fertilizer) to the masses, a pleasant elderly British couple (Amanda Walker, Oliver Ford Davies) who make weapons to “maintain democracy”, a Marxist captain (Woody Harrelson) who reluctantly serves his bosses while drunk, etc. – follows the strong foot of the first chapter and Triangle becomes slightly misshapen.
The grotesque spectacle that serves as the centerpiece of the film featuring a prolonged outbreak of seasickness that strikes guests in the midst of a perfect storm on the high seas is ambitious in terms of Ostlund’s imagination for its sets and gruesome in its graphic content with its willingness to go for it, but it alludes to this paradoxical weakness-strength dynamic of its satire. As forgiving as Ostlund is, it allows scenes to linger long after their underlying message is understood. Sometimes, as with the provocative second chapter, it allows the shock of what it sets to dissipate until the frustrating length becomes a fun joke in itself, and other times it just has the impression that she lessens the effectiveness of her contemptuous satire by laying the point in.
At just under two and a half hours, the spectacle of the second chapter, coupled with Ostlund’s favoritism to let his scenes drag on and his camera linger, leaves the equally bloated third chapter dragging itself into a funny but rather telegraphed denouement. . While this allows for some of its screenplay’s most poignant and invigorating explorations of its theme of power dynamics that underpin class struggle (with an excellent turn by Dolly de Leon in an unexpected third-act role), it also offers fortunately his caricatures of the mega-rich to become real characters in the shared misfortunes that befall them.
The overriding problem being, if one senses that Ostlund was deliberately speaking to his audience as he ruthlessly mocked the upper class with reckless abandon and a lack of subtlety, the dramatic conclusion and all-too-obvious twist of his long tirade won’t do much to convince you otherwise. Ensuring that the message is applied with such force means that it can never be misunderstood what it wants, but nevertheless overemphasized, as if “eating the rich” were as radical today as when the term was invented during the French Revolution.
His satire is a wild, brazen rollercoaster backed by shock value and sharp cynicism that relies not on bombshell but tired reiteration. For what it’s worth, the ride shines like a dark comedy about a compelling anti-capitalist statement.
#Tiff #TRIANGLE #SAD #Review