Ruben Ostlund’s latest social satire, “Triangle of Sadness,” is fun and impressive at first. This new black comedy lacks “Force Majeure’s” power and “The Square’s” subtlety, making it direct and obvious. “Triangle of Sadness” follows a model couple, Carl and Yaya, on a luxury yacht excursion, where they encounter the ultra-rich and face unexpected scenarios. “Triangle of Sadness,” the 2022 Palme d’Or winner (Ostlund’s second after “The Square”), is excellent despite its weak parts.
‘Triangle Of Sadness’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The film opens with Carl auditioning for a casting alongside several male models. Carl seems to be yearning for recognition. Yaya is a better-established model; she begins a new brand’s fashion presentation as Carl watches from the back row. The couple eats at an expensive restaurant and fights about who should pay.
To Carl, gender duties in a relationship should be equal. Therefore he waits for Yaya to pay the bill because she agreed the night before. Yaya seems to like that her man will cover her requirements; she believes in a transactional connection. The couple spends some time apart after dinner, and the taxi returns to the hotel before Yaya goes to Carl’s room. Carl promises Yaya he’ll make her fall in love with him beyond their transactional period.
Two-time Palme d’Or winner, Ruben Ostlund’s sadistic comedy #TriangleofSadness is a provocative and biting class satire of wealth and beauty privilege that plays out like a social psychology experiment. https://t.co/h6tI6BK2IN
— High On Films (@highonfilms__) December 21, 2022
Carl and Yaya take an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation as part of her modeling/influencer profession and meet other super-rich visitors. “Triangle of Sadness’s” luxurious yacht travels across societal hierarchy and meaningless ideology as class division and advantages become more apparent. Rough weather and a pirate raid quickly follow, causing the yacht to capsize. Carl and Yaya are among the lucky few to survive the disaster and wash up on a nearby island. Finally, the world’s social class structure is destroyed.
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What Are The Themes And Overall Meaning In The Film?
Ruben Ostlund’s works have always been about ideas and symbols, and “Triangle of Sadness” is no exception. Carl auditions for a modeling job when the term “triangle of sadness” is used. It refers to the area between the eyebrows, where stress and worry are visible. This title seems satirical, reflecting rich people’s peculiar fears in inappropriate situations, which happens throughout the film’s plot. The French title of the film, “Sans Filtre” (literally, “without filter”), maybe more accurate, as it is a no-filter satire of the ultra-rich. Many elements in the film happen in threes, including the three-act structure. Each act represents three different topics, which don’t always disappear in subsequent actions but are highlighted in each.
First, the first act is about the protagonist pair, both models whose love is based on gaining Instagram followers for one other. This give-and-take relationship also has a disproportionate power dynamic. Carl seems keen on making their relationship equal, without social or gender roles. He expects Yaya to pay for the pricey supper since she invited him and said she would; he’s surprised by how she tries to avoid paying. When Yaya’s ego is bruised, she pulls out a card to pay, but it’s empty.
Carl pays for it, then throws a fit in the hotel elevator, even though his girlfriend paid for his accommodation. Carl and Yaya are flawed. Thus deciding who is right is not the film’s goal. It’s meant to spark conversations about gender roles and define Carl and Yaya’s characters as the new up-and-coming wealthy class who start acting the part. Carl tries to eschew gender stereotypes, but he does various activities on the yacht that are socially expected of men.
Carl says in the first act that Yaya’s feminism is partial and disappears when it comes to paying the bills, while his own goal to abolish gender roles in a partnership seems to be limited to bill-paying situations. Yaya is also not saintly; she acknowledges that she sees relationships as transactional and would choose her life partner based on this.
Yaya and Carl start the second act aboard the yacht before introducing the other characters. When a deck worker reveals his well-built body and Yaya seems to like him, Carl complains to the authorities and gets him dismissed. The first act was about gender roles and modern relationships; the second was about socioeconomic status and privilege. Wealthy guests are on top, followed by white hospitality employees and then non-white staff and laborers.
These workers are almost always observed on the boat’s hull in their quarters. The only time they’re in the same room as visitors is to clean up after lavish dinners. Staff in-between, who start every trip with charged-up energy to behave well with guests to collect large tips, symbolize the middle class. They greet guests politely and delegate tasks to workers below them professionally and socially. Then there are the affluent, distant guests.
Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry and his two friends (his wife and a much younger mistress) make no pretenses about their money. The second act began with a carton of Nutella being airdropped from a helicopter into the sea and carried aboard the yacht since Dmitry and his buddies asked for it. An old English couple became wealthy selling bombs and munitions, profiting from wartime deprivation and death.
A German couple is also present; the woman uses a wheelchair following an accident and can’t talk. She can only utter “nein” and “in den Wolken,” which is odd and meaningless for someone who can’t speak. “Up in the clouds” may be more pertinent to ultra-rich than anything else. Another elderly couple complains about the yacht’s unclean sails, requesting that the personnel clean them so they can enjoy the views from the deck. However, the motorized boat has no sails.
Ostlund’s conclusion, the captain’s dinner, highlights the foolishness and blindness of the privileged. With such individuals and settings, a disruption was inevitable, and it occurred as bad weather. During a lavish dinner party on a yacht, strong seas make things shake and bounce. As passengers get seasick one after another, bodily fluids and wastes are flung around helplessly, and the other guests continue dining without a care.
Middle-class personnel pretends nothing is wrong by pouring wine and champagne or handing out ginger candies. Some of the guests soon start having diarrhea, and such is Ostlund’s fury against the modern high-class (and rightly so) that they excrete all over their rooms and toilets as dirt and filth gradually overflow and cover most of the yacht’s floor. The boat’s captain, an American Marxist, and Dmitri, a Russian capitalist, discuss their political and social ideas.
'Triangle Of Sadness' Ending, Explained: What Happens To Yaya And Carl? What Is The Overall Meaning Of The Film? https://t.co/d5sNiUG1K4
— DMT (@dmtalkies) November 27, 2022
Both are distant from the circumstances on the boat and outside and trade Leftist vs. Right-Wing comments. As the weather improves and morning breaks, the elderly English couple spends time on the decks until pirates throw in a grenade-like the ones they create. After some fighting, pirates blow up the yacht’s section, sinking it.
In the third act, Carl, Yaya, Dmitri, and a few others are the sole survivors of the accident and must survive until aid arrives. Jarmo, a single IT specialist, flaunted his money to the women aboard the yacht. Therese, a German woman who used wheelchairs, and Paula, the vessel’s head of staff. Soon, a mechanic, Nelson, and a cleaner, Abigail, who escaped in a lifeboat, join them. Abigail has all the emergency food and water supplies, but she initially gives them to Paula.
All the survivors acted as if nothing had changed during the first day of their survival and kept up their roles. Paula looks odd at this time because she still believes the guests are her responsibility and commands Abigail. Abigail is the only one who can build a fire or catch and prepare a fish, the only food supply, which is the film’s third topic.
While the previous act established class and privilege, this act shows how power corrupts and creates freedom. Abigail becomes the commander of the survivors, rationing food and water for herself and punishing rebels who dispute her leadership. She uses Carl sexually for food, which he divides with his model girlfriend. Carl enters a transactional relationship to maintain his exchange-based relationship with Yaya.
Triangle Of Sadness Ending Explained: Are the survivors rescued? What Happens To Yaya?
Yaya is upset because her partner is cheating, but she can’t refuse Carl’s other food. Disgruntled, she hikes to the top of a local hill to see what’s there and locate aid. She tells Abigail, Carl, and the two women to climb the mountain together. Yaya compliments Abigail for running a matriarchy so quickly and well despite her anger over Carl. Who knows if Yaya thinks what she says or says is to keep her friendship with Abigail? Yaya feels excited when the two women descend the hill from the opposite side. Once Abigail arrives, the two women observe a modern elevator installed on the rock, indicating that the island is not isolated.
Btw don't watch Triangle of Sadness. Movie ends in the most bogus of ways you get pissed. You have to google the ending explained. https://t.co/5usWXv6Urg
— Dextrous. (@mainneli_) December 14, 2022
Yaya is pleased they’ll be rescued and wants to tell the others. Abigail recognizes that if this happens, she’ll lose her identity as captain and social class privileges. She gets a rock and approaches Yaya from behind. The newly constructed social structure seems to dissolve when Yaya suggests making Abigail her secretary when they return to their life.
Abigail probably kills Yaya with the rock and rejoins the survivors. “Triangle of Sadness” closes with Carl fleeing into the island’s jungle, suggesting he’s looking for the two women. This might mean Abigail enters the resort as a single survivor and tries to escape. Abigail may return to camp and inform Carl that Yaya died accidentally, prompting him to search the jungle for her body.
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The fate of the other survivors is not directly revealed, although a sequence shows they will know there are more. Therese shouts out to a local vendor walking along the empty beach to explain her and the others’ plight. Since she can only speak “in the clouds,” it may be some time before locals and survivors can communicate.
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