Float away into a world of dark comedy, delightful details, and so much vomit.
Turning his razor-sharp gaze away from the art world – the focus of his 2017 Palme d’Or winner The Square – Östlund sidles up to the uber-rich.
Here are the beautiful people, a blend of tech barons, Russian fertilizer sellers, arms dealers. Add in a massive super yacht, a drunken Marxist captain and a tropical island, and you can see the storm clouds brewing, can’t you?
But oh, what a perfect storm. Östlund’s eye for detail is truly raptor-like. Writing and directing the film allows him to distil his style into its most refined form yet.
He grapples with gender roles, class struggle, anarchism, and the utter absurdism of modern life, but we are still given time to chuckle.
As my primary school teacher would say (somewhat ironically, I hope) we’re laughing and learning.
Visually, the film has moments that leap out with a sad, stark beauty. The red light of a boat blinking out across a deserted beach, a small dog in the background of a fashion world casting – simple little details that remind us of the sardonic nature of his work, and his hawk-eyed vision.
But what of the stars? Woody Harrelson’s Captain facing off against Zlatko Buric’s Russian oligarch Dimitry is a highlight.
The late Charlbi Dean playing Yaya and Harris Dickinson as Carl are our couple in focus – Instagram model royalty with psychotic believability. Hopelessly shallow and shocking beautiful, they are the couple in the middle of the madness. A discussion about who will pay for a meal expertly broaches the topic of money and its relative beauty early on in the film.
But hats (or tiaras in this case) must truly go off to Dolly De Leon as the chambermaid Abigail, whose role is inexplicably reversed as suddenly the moneyed folk needs her fishing skills (I’ll say no more). She embodies such expert control and strength, an intensity in her deep hazel eyes that will haunt my dreams.
Together, the actors craft a film so layered in meaning, so encrusted with jewels of winking complexity, that I find my words running over themselves in praise.
But we must provide a caveat, mustn’t we?
This is Swedish humour, both outlandish and grotesque. Aside from the buckets of vomit that would turn any queasy stomach, there is a depiction of disability used for comic effect. But I would argue that Iris Berben’s portrayal of Therese, a stroke survivor, gives depth to a character that could otherwise be seen as an unflattering comedic device.
On the subject of daring performances, Sunnyi Melles shows a bravery rarely seen in American cinema, an actor who will go to any length for the effect as a whole.
In a world in which the one per cent grow ever more corpulent on the backs of those who serve them, a luxury yacht is a perfect microcosm.
The idea that the glitterati of Hollywood and Europe sat down to witness this searing dissection of wealth and still awarded it a literal golden leaf is irony wrapped in a flatbread of perfection.
Triangle of Sadness is a dip into the choppy waters of Östlund’s mind and with a knock-out cast, this film is a gargantuan success.
Rush out and grab a ticket if you can.