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#TIFF22 Review: Triangle of Sadness (Special Presentations)

September 9, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

Ruben Östlund is a filmmaker known for satirically taking aim at any number of targets, ranging from traditional gender roles to class divides and elite society folks, skewering them all through his darkly comic films. And the Swedish director’s latest, this year’s raucous Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness, is very much in this vein. It takes the relationship foibles of his earlier Force Majeure and mixes them with the bourgeoisie-mocking extremes of his previous Palme winner The Square, blending them together into an original satire centred around a cruise ship for the ultra rich.

The film is told in three distinct chapters. The first one focuses on the relationship between male model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and his social media influencer girlfriend Yaya (the late Charlbi Dean, who sadly just passed away at the age of 32), with a key early scene involving an explosive argument over who should pay for the meal at a fancy restaurant. She gets them a spot on the luxury cruise ship surrounded by wealthy elites, and it’s in this second chapter that Ostlund’s film really kicks into high gear, with a scathing, gloriously gross sequence (for comparison’s sake, the gross out humour here rivals that of Bridesmaids).

Woody Harrelson plays the captain of the ship, who is a self-professed Marxist, and his loud, drunken argument with a Russian capitalist passenger (Zlatko Burić), who has literally gotten rich by “selling shit” (fertilizer), provides both the centrepiece and main thesis of the film. Östlund is clearly taking aim at late-stage capitalism, though in its third chapter the film functions as a pretty handy takedown of the dictatorial hierarchies that have inevitably taken hold in communist societies as well.

The first part takes a little while to get going, made up more of vignettes involving Carl and Yaya, but the strong writing and performances keep us engaged. The third and final chapter almost becomes its own unique thing, where Filipina actress Dolly De Leon ultimately walks away with the entire movie. This is a statement movie from Östlund. It’s big, bold, provocative, never exactly subtle, and a little messy in places, but always entertaining with its acerbic dialogue and outlandish scenarios. You would want nothing less from a satire as rich (pardon the pun) and sprawling as this.

Public Screenings:

Tuesday, September 13th – 9:30 PM at VISA Screening Room at Princess of Wales

Wednesday, September 14th – 5:30 PM at VISA Screening Room at Princess of Wales

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