Ruben Östlund at New York Film Festival

The only Swede at the New York Film Festival doesn’t hide his intentions when he criticizes the mega rich, super models and class systems. Ruben Östlund aims high in his buzzy satire and first English language film “Triangle of Sadness”.  

  • Ruben Östlund. Photo: Sina Östlund/Ekko Magazine
  • The first part of Östlund's most recent film “Triangle of Sadness” is less spectacular, and subtler, then what is to come. During an audition a male British model (Harris Dickinson) is advised to get Botox for his unseen triangle of sadness, the wrinkled part above the eyebrows. He later has an argument with his model/influencer girlfriend (the recently deceased Charlbi Dean) about who is expected to pick up the bill in a restaurant. From here on things get slightly hysterical. The couple find themselves on a luxury cruise where other well-off European couples and a money hungry staff, except for the alcoholic Marxist captain (Woody Harrelson), have gathered on a soon to be stormy ocean.

  • Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson in the Palme d’Or awarded ‘”Triangle of Sadness.” Photo: Fredrik Wenzel
  • Ruben Östlund has internationally made a name for himself as a biting observer of human behavior making his audience very uncomfortable. In his second win, (after “The Square”) of the prestigious Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival, he takes things a step further. Here he makes his rich passengers throw up caviar and fall in stairs in farce like scenes as the storm hits. To spice things up he adds a Russian capitalist quoting Ronald Reagan, obnoxious Brits, pirates with grenades and the killing of a donkey. In the last chapter the ship’s Filipina toilet manager gets a crucial role on a remote island. Somewhat calculating and skin deep, but entertaining and captivating, the filmmaker once again creates unsettling scenarios and is enthusiastically frank as he aims for Oscar attention and to evoke debates.

  • Besides “Triangle of Sadness”, an eclectic bunch of films came onshore at the film festival. New Yorker Noah Baumbach also goes satire in, for him very unusual, big budget Netflix opening night film “White Noise”. South Korean master Park Chan-wook doesn’t disappoint with his tense thriller “Decision to Leave” and Vicky Krieps stuns in Austrian period piece “Corsage”. In Charlotte Wells extraordinary debut “Aftersun” a father and daughter bonds in Turkey while French Oscar contender “Saint Omer” by Alice Diops grips you and Cate Blanchett absolutely nails it in Todd Fields fantastic Tár (this might be her third Oscar win). Laura Poitras already acclaimed documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”, about photographer Nan Goldin, is the festival’s centerpiece and Rumanian Christian Mungiu creates riveting filmmaking in R.M.N. when he examines xenophobia’s ugly face in Transylvania. Not to mention “Bones and All” where Luca Guadagnino reteams with Timothée Chalamet in a wonderful cannibal romance on an Americana road trip or Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter” with an always superb Tilda Swinton.
    The sum of the year’s best films at New York Film Festival, that almost seems like a normal event this year, is a storm of beautiful diamonds. Viva cinema in a movie theater!

  • Niclas Goldberg