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A daring shift from an unexpectedly long sequence of bodily fluids to a third act of thought-provoking social commentary cemented my love for “Triangle of Sadness.”
Ruben Östlund’s film, while soaked in seemingly meaningless vomit, is refreshingly complex. It has all you could ever ask for in a three-act film: Engaging events and delightful dialogue that turned a fascination with humans and their various bodily substances into something truly special.
The film follows model-influencers Yaya (Charibi Dean Kriek) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) on a vacation aboard a luxury yacht. Although expecting relaxation, chaos soon ensues once a violent storm wreaks havoc on the bowels of the ship and its affluent patrons. When all hope seems lost for the passengers, their trip just gets worse: Pirates take over the ship, stranding a pack of survivors on a nearby island.
Zany humor transforms this film from a horrific array of events into dark comedy in its finest form. Having a diverse cast aids this effort; by having each character represent various quirks, the film avoids dullness. Instead, a blend of memorable one-liners and jokes that are littered throughout the movie significantly enriched the viewing experience.
If this movie could be solely captured by the stylings of one character, it would be that of Woody Harrelson’s Captain. His character interestingly bridges the gap between random occurrences and larger messaging, turning the yacht captain into a broader denouncement of the elite class. With this, the film’s commentary on class is familiar yet distinct. While building on depictions of destructive privilege such as in “The White Lotus” and “Old”’s disturbing lost-on-a-beach narrative, it paves its own distinctive path that is worthy of an Oscar victory.
Harrelson, beyond his character’s fascinating narrative function, excels in his delivery of comedic yet impactful lines — creating many formidably memorable moments in the film. In addition to Harrelston, Kriek and Dickinson serve as excellent additions in this bizarre plot by allowing for the exploration of the dynamics of a couple caught in the appearance-obsessed throes of the influencer industry. As a viewer, I felt myself tugged alongside the ups and downs of the couple’s emotional journey, riding along the waves of their confusion and misery.
The film’s cinematography should also not be overlooked. Featuring a mixture of alluringly creative shots of the ship’s demise and the defeating life on a desert island ensures that each scene of the film is enticing. The film’s excellent capturing of beautiful landscapes and opulent interiors in the midst of pure chaos is similarly impressive.
In an Oscars season with notably impressive contenders, this film stands apart. And, avowedly, I am a fan of films that deviate from the audience’s expectations. However, whether or not you like deviations from feature film norms, “Triangle of Sadness” has much to love for every type of viewer.
While I admittedly didn’t know what was happening when watching the film — and quite frankly, still don’t — I reveled in my confusion. The film uses its weird nature to propel its appeal, making it my top pick for Best Picture.
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