“Triangle of Sadness” roasts the filthy rich for 90 glorious minutes.
The problem? There’s still a good hour of film left, and the final act is interminable.
This year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes.winner packs the subtlety of an “Itchy & Scratchy” short, but most viewers won’t care. The one-percent takedowns prove as decadent as the meals served in “The Menu.”
It’s lip-smackingly good.
The film runs out of satirical targets before director Ruben Östlund of “Force Majure” fame stumbles. By that last reel, he’s naming his targets in the film’s dialogue.
Young lovers Yaya and Carl (Charlbi Dean Kriek and Harris Dickinson) fight over the dinner check as the story opens. She’s a glamorous influencer with cash to burn (we assume). He’s a male model forced to strut his stuff in humiliating auditions.
His introductory scene mocks Balenciaga in a way that makes the company’s current woes seem quaint.
The couple settle their gender-based argument and, later, embark on a luxury cruise. The ultra-rich passengers have their every needs met, and these soulless cads get creative with their demands.
One crew member gets the boot mid-cruise for the crime of saying, “hello” to a passenger’s girlfriend.
Östlund gets plenty of mileage out of his satirical targets, from an elderly couple who sell weapons of war for profit to a woman who insists the motorized yacht has “dirty sails.”
It’s machine-gunning fish in a barrel, but the pacing works in Östlund’s favor. And that’s before Woody Harrelson arrives as a drunken captain who pines for a Marxist world order.
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Disaster strikes the vessel in more ways than one. The minute Harrelson’s character starts reciting Marxist bon mots “Triangle” hits a creative iceberg. His anti-American rant signals both the film’s obvious agenda (duh!) and, more importantly, its creative decline.
Reagan devotees might nod along with “Triangle’s” satirical broadsides up until this point, even as their favorite president gets name-checked by a creepy capitalist (Zlatko Buric).
Now, the lectures arrive without all that fancy gift wrapping. And, when the boat’s passengers end up on a remote island, Östlund gives up trying to entertain us.
“Triangle of Sadness” becomes an MSNBC-style monologue delivered by Keith Olbermann.
The laughs disappear, woke narratives flood the screen and Ostlund’s screenplay makes characters mouth his talking points:
- Down with the Patriarchy!
- Socialism rocks!
- America is the Great Satan!
The beauty behind “Triangle of Sadness’s” first half is how its socialist world view entertains people of all political stripes. Funny is funny, and the cartoonishly rich are ripe for ridicule.
The belabored finale stumbles in all the ways that matter. Characters become maddeningly inconsistent. The plucky humor evaporates. The film’s intentions lap any attempt at coherent storytelling.
Poor Dolly De Leon. Her character becomes integral to the story but exists solely to send a socialist message to viewers.
Here’s one: What a shame that a ship as sturdy as “Triangle of Sadness” springs so many leaks.
HiT or Miss: “Triangle of Sadness” rips the rich in some hilarious ways before resorting to a primer on Marxism 101 (without laughs or tension).