Triangle of Sadness is Unintentionally a Triangle of Sadness

I was pumped for Triangle of Sadness, the newest film from Ruben Östlund, director of The Square (which is a fucking disjointed masterpiece). Especially after the disaster that was Tár (see my review here). I was looking forward to a film that made fun of the elite, not one that catered to them at the expense of the rest of us. And Triangle of Sadness promised to be a satirical, over-the-top, brutally funny takedown of rich people. 

Technically, the film did include said takedown… For the first hour… Then it just kinda meanders into being boring, which was really disappointing. It builds up for the first half, then builds down for the second half. Like a triangle. A sad triangle. A triangle of sadne-

The premise is simple: rich people go on a luxury yacht (first half), then the yacht sinks and the survivors are stranded on a desert island (second half). I assume that ‘Triangle of Sadness’ refers to the Bermuda Triangle. Technically, it’s also called out by name as the part of your forehead that makes you look moody… I’m just reading between the lines that there’s a second meaning. Because I want to feel smart goddammit.

But back to the plot. The first half is amazing. It’s one awkward encounter after the next, with shitty, petty rich people being shitty and petty on a yacht. There are shallow Instagram influencers, British weapons manufacturers, some sleazy Russian guy who runs a manure empire (he literally sells shit). And they’re all annoying and condescending and utterly clueless about the real world.

But then Woody Harrelson. He’s the captain, and he emerges from hiding just as the ship enters a violent storm. At which point, it’s thirty minutes of the ship tilting back and forth, while the rich people vomit from sea-sickness and Woody Harrelson watches smugly. He even drunk-rants about the dangers of capitalism while the passengers slide around on the bathroom floors and toilets explode with shit water. It’s ham-fisted and amazing and I loved every second of it.

And then… they’re stranded on an island. And it’s really really REALLY slow. I laughed at the fact that none of the passengers were competent, except for Abigail, a cleaning lady on the yacht who happened to know survival tactics – and now they all worship her because she’s single-handedly keeping them alive.

Credit where credit is due. Dolly De Leon knocks it out of the park as Abigail, the cleaner turned captain.

But after that initial ‘the tables are turned’ power dynamic is established… Nothing much happens… Things get mildly interesting at the very end (we’re talking the last five minutes), but not enough to justify sticking around for it.

Worst of all, WOODY HARRELSON DOES NOT SHOW UP AGAIN! I was expecting him to at least be one of the survivors, but nope, he dips after act one. So that sucked, seeing as he was hands-down the best character.

In an early scene, the manager of the yacht tells the crew members that the two most important moments of the trip are: the first hour or two when the passengers arrive, then the final moments before they leave. That’s when you have to make the best impression. That’s what they’ll remember the most.

Whether it was intentional or not, that was essentially the structure of the film. And so you’re left with the impression that you saw a good movie, even though a solid half of it was bland and forgettable. If you do end up seeing it, just leave once they get on the island. Trust me – you won’t miss much.

Rating: 5.0/10