Five years after winning the Palme d’Or, Swedish director Robin Ostlund returns to Cannes (May 17-28) with a film that conveys his challenging journey and his destructive, subversive and chaotic style of commentary on contemporary reality continues. After portraying the secrets of the world of art, exhibits and equipment in Al-Midan, he decided to expose the people of power and social status in his new “Triangle of Sorrow” presented in the competition. This movie was waiting for us in the first place to see if Ostlund could be more mean and rude after he gave us the impression that he had said everything about them in his previous movie. It seems that there are new things to be said on this subject. The imagination is wide, the possibilities are plentiful, and the critical intellectual heritage from which it emanates allows such films and more.
The film begins with interviews by a presenter with models, before the camera focuses on one of those models and his famous girlfriend under the name Carl Weaya, the latter an Instagram star and “influencer” who made up her page make. From the beginning, it is clear that this is not right between them, because Karl does not stop scolding her that she does not share in the expenses and accuses her of being stingy. Scenes of strife and debate we wrote in Western films, but Ostlund puts his “spices” on it, so we discover that the relationship is on the verge of exploding. All arguments are valid to inflate it.
But what we think for a moment that it will be an organized burglary in the world of fashion, appearance and superficiality soon turns into something else. The second chapter, which has nothing to do with the first, takes us directly to a luxury yacht, where Karl and Yaya take advantage of the sun at sea after receiving an invitation to undertake a voyage aboard. Moments and we discover that the ship is teeming with a large number of wealthy people who spend their holidays with their wives. There is the English arms dealer, the Russian oligarch and the American game software genius. These are three models of rich people who draw big question marks about the integrity of their activities and the neatness of their palm. The camera moves one by one over them, getting to know their characters in a tour that is much ridiculed. Ostlund, like the Austrian director Michael Haneke, does not have much tenderness towards his people, nor does he offer an opportunity to lure them into the mud. This is the “Cynical” cinema he is known for, and it seems to fit his artistic flair.
So Östlund stuffs all these people on the yacht with a deep-rooted desire to take revenge on them politically, class and at all levels. There’s something evil in the quiver of the movie that will explode in the face of these people. Of course, this is a childish evil that is not based on arguments, and it comes within the framework of subversive comedy that cannot be taken seriously and can only be read from the perspective of an subversive boy or a sadistic teenager. Ostlund’s art culminates in the dinner in honor of the captain of the yacht. In it the rope will mix with the noble, and the rich will lose everything that makes them shine. When the yacht starts rocking with the waves, everyone vomits after feeling seasick. The first thing we think of during these scenes is Marco Ferreri’s “Grand Banquet”, then our memory also brings to mind the “hidden charm of the bourgeoisie” by Luis Buñuel. The Swedish director writes a political manifesto as he wrestles with waves in a microcosm of our current world. It’s a class struggle in Eastern fashion.
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The biggest surprise, however, is that the ship is commanded by a drunken captain (Woody Harrelson) who has undisguised Marxist tendencies. The irony of fate will bring this Marxist American captain along with a Russian capitalist, so that this encounter will generate the most humorous and comic chapter in the film. Two political camps will confront each other while the yacht is threatened with sinking, just like the world we live in. At this point in the film, Ostlund’s intentions are known and his plot is exposed. However, he does not go to the end of the idea, but rather completes his film on an island after an accident to which the ship will be exposed (we will not mention the details and circumstances), and in this option, by the yacht, he withdrew from the idea of the unity of the place, acknowledging that the idea alone was not sufficient to make a movie. Once the drowning survivors land on the island and the movie is different, it falters and loses something that made it important. It becomes predictable as we already know what he will say and what he is hiding for the treatment of the rich. On the island, everyone is equal, who sunbathes in the jacuzzi, who brought dishes for dinner, or who cleaned the rooms. There is no difference in the need to eat or sleep, even a Rolex is not worth a meal. This is a somewhat naive speech by a director who is used to saying his word and walking, and not succumbing to political correctness.
Despite the decay and weakness of the third chapter (“The Island”), which dwarfs the film and limits its ambitions, Ostlund is credited with dismantling the discourse of liberalism, showing social differences, and portraying Western hypocrisy. in his own way, that is, without compromise, without fear of exaggeration and vitriolic criticism … and all this, Jury President Vincent Landon admired the left, known for his side of socially-minded films triumphing over the working class. Yet, despite his daring kick in a horn’s hollow, the film eventually gets only a parade of horns before returning to their hollow.