Movie Review: Triangle of Sadness (Östlund, 2022)

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Movie: Triangle of Sadness 

Production Companies: Imperative Entertainment, Film a Väst, BBC Film, 30WEST, Plattform Production, Essential Films, Coproduction Office, Sveriges Television, ZDF/Arte, Arte France Cinema, TRT Sinema, Svenska Filminstitutet, Eurimages, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, The Danish Film Institute, MOIN- Film Fund, Hamburg Schelswig-Holstein, BFI, Nordisk Film and TV Fund, Arte France, DR, Canal+ and Cine+, Heretic, Bord Cadre Films, Sovereign Films, PIANO

Director: Ruben Östlund  

Producers: Erik Hemmendorff, Philippe Bober

Scriptwriter: Ruben Östlund

Main Cast: Harris Dickinson, Charbli Dean, Dolly De Leon, Zlatko Buric, Henrik Dorsin, Vicki Berlin, Woody Harrelson

Release Date: October 28th 2022 (UK)

Running Time: 149 minutes

Certificate: 15


So beyond Triangle of Sadness being a massive European co-production, it’s also a mad film which shows off Ruben Östlund’s directorial skills. While it may start off slow, Triangle of Sadness eventually escalates into a fantastic commentary on how the rich see, use and manipulate the poor in society and daily life. Yeah it gets to those sorts of depths as well as literally hitting the toilet halfway through. Also SPOILERS ahead. So without further ado let’s get into my review of the film.


Triangle of Sadness follows a rich couple, Carl (Dickinson) and Yaya (Dean), as they take a cruise for the super rich. This cruise sees the film lay bare how their relationship is very much on the ropes. Anyway, when the cruise is hit by a tropical storm and then a band of pirates, a small group of survivors are left stranded on an isolated desert island beach. Naturally this leads to a stereotypical lord of the flies hierarchical society with former crew member, Abby, at the top.

And yes if you put two and two together you can probably assume what happens between Carl, Yaya and Abby. What is very evident from Triangle of Sadness’s narrative is that while it may seem complex a lot of the narrative reveals seem to be more obvious in hindsight. And yes Woody Harrelson is fantastic when he makes appearances. So now enough with the synopsis let’s get into the analysis portion of the review.


Charbli Dean’s Performance in Triangle of Sadness 

To begin my analysis I’m going to discuss the late great Charbli Dean’s performance as Yaya. Now firstly she does a fantastic job at making Yaya seem hateable yet still loveable. Why do I say this? Well for starters take the scene of her and Carl having dinner together. Here the use of shot reverse shots and no non diegetic soundtrack convey the passive aggressive tension between Carl and Yaya. This also allows the audience to see how hateable Yaya can be as she argues with Carl about who pays the bill for their dinner.

Now as much as Dean deserves credit Harris Dickinson deserves immense credit for subtly showing how manipulative Yaya can seem. However, on the flip side Dean also shows how Yaya can seem sympathetic during the island scenes. Obviously with a mind on spoilers, in order to gain extra food for himself and Yaya he sleeps with Abby. Now despite her being very dislikable you do have to feel for her as she watches Carl sleep with Abby less to help her and more for his own sexual means. Yeah if you can’t tell this is a cheery film…..

Harris Dickinson’s Performance in Triangle of Sadness 

Continuing on my analysis of Triangle of Sadness, I’m going to discuss Charbli Dean’s co star: Harris Dickinson’s performance as Carl. So what makes his performance so good? Well firstly how he tricks the audience to believe he’s a truly innocent person who’s in the right. Why do I say this? Well, take the aforementioned island scenes where Carl starts to sleep with Abby. Dickinson does a great job at initially showing Carl’s guilt over having to cheat on Yaya. Yet Dickinson does an even better job at showing how little he seems to care the more he and Abby sleep together.

This acts as a wonderful 180 degree turn from the opening of the film where Yaya seems like she is in the wrong for abusing Carl’s trust in her. Anyway, beyond his clear chemistry with Charbli Dean Harris Dickinson also shows how Carl seems to stick out amongst the other wealthy crew members. Take for example the captain’s dinner scene. Here, Carl seems very out of place in the sense that he wasn’t born into wealth like the couple he and Yaya are talking to. Also, his facial expressions perfectly match that of the audience’s when the other couple start talking about grenades. Yeah really Triangle of Sadness gets mad……

The Captain’s Dinner Scene in Triangle of Sadness

To conclude my analysis of Triangle of Sadness, I’m going to discuss the aforementioned Captain’s Dinner scene and why it’s so good. Firstly, there’s the aforementioned shots of Carl and Yaya talking to a couple of arms dealers. Next, I’m going to mention cinematography. Basically because of the literal storm brewing outside, Östlund uses the occasional Dutch cant in order to display the growing instability of the situation. Nice touch there.

Also the use of handheld camera to smoothly pan between different conversations is another nice touch. This makes the audience seem like the ship’s crew as we hear snippets of all the passengers talking without ever really settling on one conversation. Oh and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Woody Harrelson’s performance as the Captain. Basically imagine Woody Harrelson being himself in a really posh environment. That simplicity is what makes his performance so funny and entertaining.


To summarise Triangle of Sadness, this is a wonderfully made film which provides an entertaining look at class relations between the super rich and the working classes who make their lifestyles possible. But it also sees a fair few exploding toilets in it so who really knows what the message of Triangle of Sadness is?

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Moderate Violence and Gore, Mild Profanity, Mild Frightening and Intense Scenes, Moderate Alcohol Drugs and Smoking 

Recommendation: Yes