Monday, December 12, 2022

Oh Captain My Captain

Triangle of Sadness (2022) - Östlund Triangle of Sadness Good comedies are hard to come by these days. Ruben Östlund, riding the success of absurd satires like Force Majure and the Square, comes back with another over the top-class satire, with international cast, in Triangle of Sadness. He starts out with modeling tryouts with hunky Harris Dickenson (Beach Rats). At one point, a casting director tells him, “Why don't you lose that triangle of sadness between your eyebrows?" Yes, male modeling is easy to make fun of, as well demonstrated in Ben Stiller's Zoolander. But what's easier? Social influencers. They live off their good looks. They make the age-old meet and greet of asking 'what do you do for living?' completely obsolete. So, what would be the ultimate setting for a class satire? On a luxury cruise ship, of course.

So, a model Carl (Dickenson) and his influencer girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) gets invited to a luxury cruise filled with uber rich crowd. It's an old money and new money alike: a Russian fertilizer tycoon, an English arms dealer couple, a lonely internet security expert and Carl (Dickinson) and Yaya. There's a team of dedicated crew who waits on the customers hand and foot, to attend their every absurd demand - like stop everything they are doing and jump on the water slide on the side of the boat, to celebrate their class consciousness(?). There's a recluse, alcoholic, Marxist captain (Woody Harrelson) who finally emerges from his deck only to go mano a mano with the Russian on which is better- Capitalism or Communism, while looking up and exchanging memorable quotes from google. After a big storm with everybody's projectile vomiting and shitting subsides, the ship is hijacked by pirates and the ship sinks.

Only a few survivors wash up ashore in what seems like a remote island. The water and food supply are limited. Paula (Vicky Berlin) the yacht steward, tries to keep everything and everybody in order, but soon realizes that there is no hierarchy anymore. Abigail (Dolly De Leon), a Filipino crew member who oversaw cleaning the toilet, emerges to be the leader because she is the only one who knows how to start the fire, how to fish and she gets to decide who eats and doesn't. She soon chooses Carl to be her sexual pet.

The reversal of roles is cathartic and delicious, but short lived. Östlund let you not forget that we live in an overly developed world that capitalism took over every corner of the world that it can't be defeated that easily. The world of pretend, married to our phone and constant flux of information that we rely our identity on, will not let you go. With all that cringey funny business he is so good at, at heart, Östlund is true Haneke pupil. But whereas Haneke has courage to cut the cord/throat/head off, two-time Palm d'Or winning director doesn't, as the murky ending suggests. And just like the people onboard of the yacht, when the movie is over, we laugh and pat ourselves on the back because the ordeal's over and exit to the elevator.

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