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Film Review: Triangle of Sadness

by Joyce Remo

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

THE 2022 Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness has been making headlines after the back-to-back nominations from award-giving bodies for the film and one of its cast members, veteran Filipina actress Dolly De Leon. 

While critics praised the Ruben Östlund film, it was De Leon’s outstanding portrayal of Abigail, one of the movie’s characters, that undeniably captured the audience’s attention.

Triangle of Sadness was De Leon’s career-turning break that earned her historic Golden Globes and British Academy Film Awards nominations.

The Filipina thespian also received nods from the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards for best supporting actress.

READ: Dolly De Leon nominated for Golden Globes, wins LA film critics awards

READ: Dolly De Leon is first Pinoy to get BAFTA nomination

READ: Dolly de Leon wins best actress at Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards

(From left to right) Yaya, Abigail, and Paula on the deserted island. | Photo courtesy: Triangle of Sadness (2022)

The film in a glance

Triangle of Sadness is a dark, satirical comedy film that illustrates the divide between social classes.

The film follows the story of sunken luxury yacht passengers as they try to survive on a deserted island.

Östlund’s film aims to tackle several societal issues including gender roles, communism, capitalism, and social hierarchies.

The survivors of the sunken yacht drink their last supply of bottled water from the lifeboat. | Photo courtesy: Triangle of Sadness (2022)

From toilet cleaning lady to “captain”

One of the film’s twists is when De Leon’s character, Abigail, becomes the leader of the pack thanks to her survival skills.

The toilet-cleaner-turned-captain leads the group as they hunt and work to fill their empty stomachs.

Östlund’s film depicts how the hierarchies have been reversed, with the rich depending on Abigail in order to stay alive. 

Nelson (left) and Dimitry (right) celebrate after Jorma (not in frame) successfully hunted a deer. | Photo courtesy: Triangle of Sadness (2022)

It shows Abigail playing with the power she holds as the team leader, ordering those who have looked down on her to work on tasks they have never done their whole lives.

The film also shows how power could corrupt an individual’s mind, especially during occurrences where they feel they are about to lose their control over other people.

Open-ended story

At one point in the film, Yaya (played by Charlbi Dean), a model, social media influencer, and one of the yacht’s passengers, decides to venture into the mountains to look for food.

Abigail, as the team’s acting leader, decides to join her in her quest. Hours after their trek, Yaya makes a shocking discovery that compels Abigail to attempt to kill her in order to maintain her hold on power.

But she stops midway into the act after Yaya, not knowing the danger she was in, makes Abigail a kind offer. 

In the end, the audience is left to wonder whether Abigail pushed through with her plan or not. 

Hunger for power

In terms of the technical aspects — from the coloring down to the musical score — Triangle of Sadness is a cinematographic masterpiece. The technical details and the cast ensemble were like pieces that perfectly fit together and created an enigmatic jigsaw puzzle.

However, there were several missed opportunities that might have made the film’s storyline stronger and deeper.

Triangle of Sadness follows an eat the rich theme. When the hierarchy was reversed, the rich passengers are seen depending more on people like Abigail whom they used to look down on the yacht.

It would have been more interesting to see these rich people learning their lesson on how to treat others, especially service workers, properly and kindly. But that kind of resolution was lacking in the film. 

The love boat scene of Abigail and Carl, portrayed by Harris Dickinson, also came as a disappointment. That particular concept had a huge chance of becoming yet another mind-blowing twist.

Instead of a scene about satisfying each other’s sexual desires, it would’ve been nice to see Carl and Abigail plotting ways to escape the island or to scheme against the rich who were barely surviving the island life.

But what the audience got was Abigail giving in to the rich people’s game by showing them she can get anything with the current power she holds. In the end, Abigail became just like them.

This has led to theories that maybe Abigail did kill Yaya because of her hunger for power, because in order to remain at the top of the hierarchy, the former toilet cleaner must maintain her ascendancy over the rich people. And this can only be achieved by staying on the island.

How did it really end? 

In a recent question and answer season about the film, De Leon told the audience that the director doesn’t really care whether the killing took place or not. What’s important is the reason the character had to arrive at that particular decision in that particular moment.

But De Leon believes that Abigail pushed through with the killing. 

“Sa mga nagsabing hindi pinatay ni Abigail si Yaya, mabuti po ang puso n’yo pero ako, tingin ko, pinatay ni Abigail si Yaya,” the actress said with a laugh. 

No Triangle of Sadness victory without Dolly

Many film critics have applauded De Leon’s acting skills in the film, with some noting that her performance in the film was so groundbreaking that it wouldn’t have worked if other actors had taken the role.

During a Q&A session with the actress, republicasia asked De Leon about her reaction to statements saying that Triangle of Sadness will not be as successful as it is now if it wasn’t for her.

“Kung gano’on ang tingin nila, edi great,” De Leon jokes.

However, she believes it was the effort of the whole team that brought Triangle of Sadness’ victory.

“Of course I see the value of my contribution to the film but I don’t think of it that way,” De Leon told republicasia. “Kasi it took a whole team to create this, all of us had, you know, lahat kami may ambag kumbaga and para sa akin, pantay-pantay lahat ng ambag namin.”

Banner courtesy: Triangle of Sadness trailer



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