The classes collide in Ruben Östlund’s satire Triangle of Sadness. As a group of vapid uber-rich folks basks in the sun on an exclusive cruise ship it’s the staff who will prove their worth when the going gets tough. It may be too blunt for its own good, but the film proves to be an often lively and hilarious excursion. On 4K UHD from The Criterion Collection, the film sports an excellent A/V presentation but slim extras. Worth A Look.
2022 certainly was a year for “eating the rich” at your local multiplex. With bitter irony, an industry known for lavish extravagance, excess, and vapid personalities would spend so many millions of dollars on films and stars to satirize and skewer its own lifestyle. From Glass Onion to Babylon to The Menu, the last year saw several films of varying quality take a deep stab at the uber-wealthy. Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness was one such film to knock the lifestyles of the rich and barely influencer famous.
Our film picks up with struggling male model Carl (Harris Dickinson) at a fashion show audition as he and other men of varying attractiveness attempt to catch the eye of the camera for a top-tier designer’s next show. Meanwhile, his increasingly successful model girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean, RIP) steadily rises in the ranks strutting down the runway. When the two aren’t bickering about who picks up the check, they’re working overtime as social media influencers. Their latest conquest is to enjoy an exclusive lux ocean cruise for free - provided they spread the word to their followers while a dedicated staff caters to their every whim. But when a storm upends the voyage, only a few people will genuinely show their true worth to this enclave of society.
Now, Triangle of Sadness isn’t exactly subtle with the barbs it throws. Between our influencer main characters to the successful manure salesman Dimitry (played with gusto by Zlatko Buri?) to our drunk wannabe communist sea captain (played by Woody Harrelson), there’s ample material for satire. We get to meet Vicki Berlin’s main concierge Paula and the head cleaning woman Abigail Dolly De Leon, and we start to see how the film is going to play out. While it’s the uber-wealthy passengers who technically pay the wages of everyone on board, the staff are the only people worth a damn, and Östlund’s screenplay proves this point from one hilarious setup to the next… until the satire plays out long before the closing credits.
While most of the film is damned funny, it eventually overplays its best hands. The film has a very distinct and incredibly memorable second-act point that should have been the film’s climax. It’s a naturally hilarious moment that the whole story feels like it was naturally building toward, but then the film keeps going… and going. Now the third act is interesting and there are a few good laughs, but the satire is far more blunt; carving the heart out with a spoon, so to speak. Rather than continue to tickle the audience with increasingly ridiculous setups, the third act plays more like a stick in the eye.
Overall I thought Triangle of Sadness was a funny and entertaining film, but a very flawed one. On the scale of similar lux satires, I’d give The Menu the leg up for delivering a more fulfilling funny, and tantalizing satire with some great horror/thriller edges for some added spice. Glass Onion was just pure fun. Babylon wasn’t a favorite even if it was beautiful to look at. Triangle of Sadness is brilliant when it works, when it doesn’t it feels very clunky as the genuine belly laughs thin out and sputter and you start to wish the characters would just go full-on Lord of the Flies.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Triangle of Sadness relaxes for a two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection. The 4k is pressed on a BD-100 with a Region A BD-50 handling the load for the 1080p and the bulk of the bonus features. The discs are housed in Criterion’s standard clear case with a booklet for essays and technical information included. Spine number for this release is 1178. The discs load to Criterion’s standard animated main menu structure.
Another in Criterion’s run of SDR 4K releases, Triangle of Sadness scores a drop-dead gorgeous Insta-ready 2160p 2.38:1 transfer approved by Ruben Östlund. Given this is a brand new title and not an aged classic getting its due on 4K, I was curious to see how much better this transfer could be over the 1080p and it’s pretty immediately obvious. With a nice and robust bitrate, the feeling of depth and dimension with crystal clear details. From the opening fashion shoot to the cruise ship to a gorgeous island location, every piece of clothing, set design, and skin texture is ready to be observed on your home theater setup. Impressively enough colors also pick up a more luminous boost over the 1080p disc with vivid primaries and healthy accurate skin tones. Black levels are excellent with deep inky shades and impressive shadow gradience for a rich sense of three-dimensional depth.
The disc comes with an English (mostly) DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix that holds the film nicely. Apparently, this had Atmos for some screenings, but this mix still holds its own. Dialog is clean and clear without issue. Imaging for the track is smartly applied so that even when folks are lounging in the sun on the deck, there’s plenty of surround activity for the channels to feed off of. There are plenty of quiet contemplative and conversational moments, but even then there are enough distinct effects throughout the soundscape to keep the surrounds working. A storm sequence in the second act is particularly effective and exciting in that arena… with a few other choice sound effects during a dinner scene to bring it all home. I’d have loved to hear the Atmos, but this track holds its own.
On the bonus features for Triangle of Sadness one can shed a tear for an interesting but rather anemic set of extras. There’s some discussions about the film’s themes and characters, a look at the visual effects, and a breakdown of one of the film’s most memorable albeit disgustingly hilarious sequences. There are also a few deleted scenes to ingest, but they’re not substantial deletions that they’d dramatically shift the film. All of the bonus features are on the Blu-ray disc.
Triangle of Sadness certainly isn’t a movie that’s going to appeal to everyone. As a satire, it has some hilarious stinging barbs to throw and most of the time it works, but its third act is a little too blunt and on the nose for its own good. Perhaps it was overhyped from winning the Palme d'Or, I just didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped I would. But Triangle of Sadness makes for a pretty damned beautiful 4K disc. Even without the advantages of HDR, the image boasts an impressive range of improvements over its 1080p counterpart with crisp clean details, bold colors, and inky blacks with stronger shadow separation. A great disc for a movie that may not be for everyone Worth A Look