If The Guitar Mongoloid (2004) was a satire making fun of plausible lower-class state of affairs, and if Force Majeure (2014) was a satire making fun of plausible middle-class state of affairs, then… well… you can do the math. Perhaps beyond what’s most obvious about Ruben Östlund’s sixth feature-length Triangle of Sadness, aside from its mock of life’s “greatest” financial extravaganzas, is its premise of a lab rat experiment that neutralizes them into the impossible equilibrium that its lucrative characters are made fun of for believing in, harkening all the way back to material like Luis Buñuel’s 1962 bourgeoise-critique classic The Exterminating Angel (1962), which Östlund had even preceded a bit in his last feature The Square (2017). When at the mercy of living, rich or poor, always comes the necessity of the animal.
Winning the Palme d’Or is always infuriatingly tricky because, for one, it sets up distended expectations for a film among a hundred equally worthy choices that won’t come with the burden of its prerequisites, and two, it’s easy to demonize the ones that aren’t saying the most profound things ever said in cinema, and if the controversial reaction to his first win with Square proves anything it’s that Triangle is bound to receive a similar treatment again.
What mother! (2017) is to Darren Aronofsky is essentially what this is to Östlund’s career: you’re there mainly for the ride, the excess of its immersion, and the surface-level schematics are sort of just there as simply blueprint for those opportunities to exist. In theory, we’re all quite familiar with lucky money sometimes buying out adverse experiences and adverse experiences sometimes buying out lucky money in the great scheme of life’s dichotomies for which oscillate given the topical hierarchy that promises the most fail-safe survival, and for fans, so do Östlund’s customary interests in innate masculine x feminine roles and their transgressions amongst even the most pretentiously simulated as “ideal” settings. But damn, if it isn’t just loads of fun to watch those ideas (as redundant as they’ve been done) actually play out by a director who knows how to make use of hyperactive cinematic nauseation and exceptionally drunk-dumb comedic writing that has yet to sink in quality even a little after almost two decades into his ever increasingly inflated career with critical reception.
If anything, seeing the film’s intoxicated bond between an American communist and Russian capitalist is worth the price of admission alone.
2022 Ranked, Ruben Östlund Ranked
“Triangle of Sadness” is now playing in select theaters.