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Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, receiving a reported 8-minute standing ovation. From a film that brutally satirises the cluelessness of the rich and famous, the praise of this feature at one of the world’s most exclusive events is nothing short of ironic.

Triangle of Sadness brings together a model-turned-influencer couple, a tech businessman, a Russian oligarch, and an ammunition-business-owning couple all on the serene location of a cruise ship. We see these distinct characters interact and explain their morally ambiguous worlds to each other. Östlund explores how they are all malevolent in unique ways.

Be prepared for this film to trigger your worst nightmares

Vomit. Fashion. Vomit. Champagne. Vomit. A dead donkey. Vomit. Waterslides. And more vomit. Admittedly, I was warned about the copious amounts of bodily fluids in Ruben Östlund’s film; however, nothing could quite prepare me for the horrifying experience that I swear I could smell through the screen. To anyone who suffers from travel sickness: be prepared for this film to trigger your worst nightmares.

The film thrives on observational comedy targeted towards the super affluent through placing them in increasingly ridiculous situations. With fast pacing we seamlessly transition between three distinct acts with three distinct settings - so that’s what the triangle title is all about. That and a term in plastic surgery for the wrinkles between the eyebrows: ‘triangle of sadness’. Throughout the film imagery of triangles is sprinkled in. The triangular boat. The surprising love triangle.

Östlund’s use of dark comedy is also relentless. Every single character is subject to scrutiny - not just the upper class. The brutal characterisation of the sycophantic workers who serve them is just as callous. No one is beyond being laughed at. No one is easy to wholeheartedly root for.


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This unsympathetic portrayal of humanity could be off-putting if it weren’t so entertaining to watch. The French title for the film, Sans Filtre (Unfiltered), captures the film’s treatment of its characters, various political ideologies, and human nature itself. This title is also true of the film’s graphic, slapstick depiction of seasickness. I can hardly bear to linger on this disgusting ordeal but can assure you that the entire cinema was squirming.

Woody Harrelson stands out in his role, enigmatic as the ship’s captain. Harris Dickinson slyly steals the show as main character Carl. Look out for a particularly brilliant scene between Carl and his girlfriend Yaya in an elevator, placing a typical couple's quarrel in a delightfully absurd environment. Often pitiable, sometimes sympathetic, but always slimy, his character is the perfect centre for a bitter take on modern class division.

Triangle of Sadness is a fast-paced, biting comedy. It may lack originality in its portrayal of the intricacies of class relations, but it makes up for it in its unflinching wit and wonderfully over-the-top characterisation.