Triangle of Sadness(Ending Explained + Theories)
I did realise that I have been covering a lot of desi content lately and haven’t really watched and reviewed some of the International content doing the rounds currently. And when I did get to know about the new English film Triangle Of Sadness premiering on VOD, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to watch and review it. Now, I did not know anything about thr film prior to me watching it other than the fact that the film was the winner of the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival this year. But little did I know that I would be gasping for breath while laughing my lungs out during the film. This review will contain spoilers as there is so much to soak in and discuss. So viewers discretion advised! Here are my two cents on Triangle Of Sadness!
Story & Screenplay / Ending Explained + Theories
Triangle of Sadness follows the story of a bunch of people who get stuck on a remote island following a catastrophe. The story here is one of the best dark satires that I have seen in recent times. And there is so much to discuss and so much did unfold over its runtime of nearly 150 minutes that had me gasping for breath and leaving me puzzled especially at the end. I did take some time out to let the drama sink in and finally formulated my thoughts about the film. So once again SPOILERS AHEAD(last warning).
The screenplay here is brilliantly layered but firstly lets try and understand as to why the film is titled ‘Triangle Of Sadness’. The term is often used by plastic surgeons on the area between your forehead connecting your two eye brows and your nose, thus forming a triangle. So every time you scorn, the area does wrinkle up thus forming a triangle of sadness! But then how is it related to the film? The film itself is divided into three chapters, with each chapter representing a class divide in theme and tonality despite being connected with one another. So if you would compare it to your face, while the eyebrows(upper class, positioned on your face ‘above’ the nose) are placed at the same level, the nose(lower class, positioned below the eyebrows) is placed below it. This or am I reading too much into it?
Let us dig into the screenplay a little more! Before the start of the first of the three chapters, we have a little prelude with a bunch of male models posing for a brand. The thing to note is the happy/sad reactions provided to the brands, the sad reactions reserved for the cheaper brands and happy reactions for the expensive brands. Cut to the first chapter, wherein we get to witness the “strained” relationship between the two protagonists Carl and Yaya, both of whom are models and are in a relationship mainly to maintain their social media status. The setting here is that of a typical upper class in a world which is well accustomed to them(implying that the power control is well within their grasp here). There are some lines exchanged on how the bill should or should not be split between the two, leading up to the conclusion that both may also be into each other because of the money.
Cut to the second chapter, and here is when the humour begins to kick in. The setting here is a beautiful cruise ship but interestingly the class divide is evident here. While the guests include a Russian Capitalist with his wife and mistress, a lonely Billionaire and an old but rich couple along with Carl and Yaya(who wins a trip primarily due to her upper class status). In other words, the richest lot are the guests here while on the other hand there is a bifurcation in the crew as well. One set of crew is the lowest of the lot, meant only to do the cleaning work representing the lower class, and the other set of crew delegated with duties of pleasing the guests and always obliging to their orders, representing the middle class.
There is absolute pandemonium that follows after one of the Russian guests “instructs” the entire crew to go swimming, leaving their individual duties aside. As a result on Captain’s dinner, several guests start a river of sh*t and vomit after they fall sick in a hilarious turn of events. These set of scenes were disgusting as well as hilarious, almost like poetry in ‘motion’, literally so! Elsewhere, a discussion brewing between the Russian Capitalist and the American Communist lead to a hilarious take on one-upmanship. In another hilarious scene, an old couple dies of a grenade thrown at them after them talking about grenades a couple of scenes prior to it. Wonderful foreshadowing and absolutely hilarious! But the fun begins in the third chapter that is set on the island.
The third chapter is by far the most layered chapter of the film(thus completing the ‘Triangle Of Sadness’). It did give a glimpse of the fact that if the rich are taken out of their comforting environments then even their basic skills of surviving would not be available. The same would apply to a rich paralytic person who would live a comfortable life elsewhere but when that element of her life is taken away, the struggle would be real. This chapter was more of a social revolt too(lead by a Abigail who was a toilet cleaner on the ship prior to it). So it did show that when the rich and poor are at a same level, the poor will always triumph given the struggles they have been accustomed to.
To give you a perspective of the power tussle, Yaya was physically more fit than Abigail as seen in the trekking scene and she could have easily used her powers to exercise control. But the power here was social too and a lot more dependent on Abigail who knew how to light a fire and clean and cook fish. This prevented Yaya from stealing control from Abigail despite a disagreement on her part when Carl decides to sleep with Abigail in exchange for food. Carl too had a sense of masculinity(he did not even wish to pay entirely for the bill in the first chapter) yet he was fully under the control of Abigail who did hold all the cards.
So then what happens towards the end? Did Abigail kill Yaya after the latter discovered that they were actually on a resort all along? Now there are many ways to interpret this! So first lets try and get into the psyche of Abigail. Her initial life was a struggle and she did not have kids, contrary to the privilege that Yaya had which was only to worry if she ever did get pregnant, would the man actually take care of her! Abigail was almost at every stage suppressed prior to landing up on the island. She had never tasted power. So when she actually did get a chance to control things, she would never let it go. The deal breaker of Yaya’s fate was probably when she offered a then reluctant Abigail holding a stone to kill her(with Yaya having her back to her), that she would offer Abigail to be her first assistant, a position that was not was Abigail was looking for especially after having tasted the luxury of the power. In a reference to a prior scene, wherein the group kill a ‘female’ donkey(another exercize of power flowing from the powerful to the weak, in a subyle way from men to women), Abigail would eventually kill Yaya the same way in my humble opinion!
So there is still another question remaining. Why was Carl seen running frantically as the closing shot? There is no definite answer to this but I have three theories for it. The first being, he probably did not want Abigail to tell Yaya about his sexual relationship with the former. The second being, the other stranded passengers(other than Abigail and Yaya) running to attack Carl after they did find out that Carl was sleeping with Abigail in exchange for food(in a scene you just see the paralyzed woman talking to a seller with no signs of the others around her). My third theory has a reference to the first chapter wherein a taxi driver is seen telling Carl to fight for his love, only then would love thrive and win. So probably, in order to save his relationship with Yaya, he was frantically putting in the hard yards to reach her in time. I was on the fence as far as the open end was concerned but I loved how intelligently allows the audience to form their own analysis in what is a hilariously dark satire! So there us a lot to pack in, in what is a masterclass in screenplay writing!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but thoroughly witty and enjoyable. The BGM is fabulous and makes for a compelling viewing. The cinematography is brilliant and beautifully captures some of the frames. The editing is crisp here. Director Ruben Ostlund does a fabulous job in weaving a deceptively intelligent and deliciously dark satire that had so many layers to it. The direction was top notch!
The performances are brilliant here but first let me start with Charlbi Dean as Yaya who is now no more with us. In probably her final outing onscreen(she expired at a tender age of 32), she is phenomenal here paying so much attention to the smaller nuances to her character. Rest well, until next time!
Woody Harrelson as The Captain is hilarious in an extended cameo. Zlatko Buric as Dmitry gives him great company and their interactions are one of the highlights of the film! Hanna Oldenburg as the Yacht Steward is in top form here. She politeness adds to the humour in the drama(for instance her offering ginger sweets when people around her are throwing up). Dolly De Leon as Abigail is excellent and probably the life of the second hour of the film. She is deceptively smart and puts forth an incredibly good act! Harris Dickinson as Carl does manage to impress and makes for a lasting impression. In a way, the characters of Carl, Abigail and Yaya form a Triangle Of Sadness in many ways as well!
Triangle Of Sadness is a ‘sh*t’ load of fun making it a deliciously dark satire for the ages! This one comes with my highest recommendation knowing for a fact that it did challenge me as a critic to even pen this review by discussing its various layers. Do not miss this one!