SPOILER ALERT: Minor plot points for Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness” are discussed below.
Cannes attendees waiting for David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” to give the festival a stomach-churning shock got an electrifying surprise with the world premiere of Ruben Östlund’s latest social satire, “Triangle of Sadness.” The movie earned an uproarious eight-minute standing ovation after a lively screening that found the audience at Cannes’ Palais theater shrieking in horror and delight.
“Triangle of Sadness” stars “Beach Rats” and “The Kingsman” actor Harris Dickinson as an aspiring model who gets the chance to vacation aboard a luxury yacht after his influencer girlfriend wins them a free trip. Woody Harrelson plays the yacht’s alcoholic captain. The yacht is full of pretentious and snobby guests who make up the 1%, but they all get their comeuppance courtesy of an extended 15-minute sequence in which a storm leads to an outbreak of seasickness.
This centerpiece scene earned perhaps the most rowdy reaction from the Cannes audience so far at the 2022 festival. Östlund draws out the build-up as the boat rocks and the guests are served oysters and elaborate seafood dishes. Eventually all hell breaks loose and eruptions of vomiting and pooping are shown in graphic detail. The audience at the Palais shrieked, covered their eyes and roared with laughter. Three attendees were spotted walking out of the Palais balcony amid the sequence, but everyone else in the crowd responded with approval.
“Triangle of Sadness” is full of several other moments that had the audience gasping in shock, but it’s best to leave the rest of the film unspoiled. The Cannes crowd reacted with an eight-minute standing ovation that was far louder than the ovations “Top Gun: Maverick” and other films earned so far at the festival.
“What a wonderful screening,” Ostlund said when handed a microphone, his comment almost drowned out by the applause. “What an ensemble we had. Thank you so much!”
In addition to the audience reaction, Variety‘s Peter Debruge gave “Triangle of Sadness” a strong review, writing, “There’s a meticulous precision to the way he constructs, blocks and executes scenes — a kind of agonizing unease, amplified by awkward silences or an unwelcome fly buzzing between characters struggling to communicate.”
Östlund was last at Cannes with “The Square” in 2017, which won the Palme d’Or. While there are many films left in competition to screen, the reaction to “Triangle of Sadness” hints that it could be a contender for one of the Cannes prizes.
“Triangle of Sadness” delivered Cannes a dose of shock and awe. Your move, Cronenberg.