The greatest emotion that Triangle of Sadness evokes is indifference. From the director of Force Majeure, the drama-comedy is similarly challenging, an unconventional satire of the ultra rich, decadence, and optics that refuses to play things easy. But unlike Force Majeure, Triangle of Sadness feels much more aimless, its targets too obvious, its entertainment value tenuous.
Going in, I was aware that Ruben Östlund’s latest was divisive; some have loved it, and some have… less than liked it. I was worried I’d fall squarely in the latter grouping, my appetite for satires extremely limited and my appreciation of “two-and-a-half-hour comedies” even less so.
And yet Triangle of Sadness does, kind of, hold your attention.
It’s a weird production, consisting of a drawn out story full of half-realized characters and an exacting form of humor that will likely click with only 1% of the breathing population. But something is always happening, no matter how mundane; Östlund has a talent for keeping you curious, to entertain a willingness to give his intentions just a little more time to play out.
The problem is that after the exhaustive runtime, what drew Östlund to this story remains elusive. It’s a lot of minutes spent with some pretty insufferable-but-not-completely-insufferable individuals in which very little actually gets accomplished. Östlund’s desert-dry sense of humor is hard to latch onto here (much harder than it was in Force Majeure); Triangle of Sadness operates with such a flat affect throughout, nothing really lands with much vigor.
Still, the movie feels (and even looks) different from everything else out there that I was able to appreciate aspects of Östlund’s storytelling approach. And even as even keeled as the movie is, you can sense that Östlund had fun making this movie and that the cast were on board with where he was steering the ship. That alone doesn’t make for an entertaining experience, but keeps it from being a downright dull one.
Nonetheless, Triangle of Sadness is an exercise in apathy. Unless you somehow are in tune with Östlund’s humor, it’s not worth the plunge. It may not be a shipwreck, but it amounts to a boat passively adrift.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.