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Ruben Östlund

A postmodern critique of relationships and gender roles in Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness

in Current Issue/Reviews

by Karin Nestešová 

Even if you are not a regular cinemagoer, chances are you have heard of the 2022 movie Triangle of Sadness which has been a hit not only in the European cinemas but also at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival where it has won the Palme d’Or award. This most recent satirical black comedy film written and directed by the Swedish director Ruben Östlund, whose previous movies Force Majeure (2014) and The Square (2017) have also been critically acclaimed, deals with the themes of beauty standards, gender stereotypes, and predominantly social and class inequalities. Although to some, the satirical poke at the wealthy’s incompetence to survive without reliance on their wealth and the lower- and working-class service workers can seem too obvious, the reversal of hierarchy and social roles in the third act of the film shows how even in a situation, where survival is at the top of the priority list, rather than creating an egalitarian system, the community replicates the capitalistic patterns of the default society. However, perhaps the most prominent way the themes of class and social hierarchy are explored in the movie is through the relationship of the two main characters, Carl and Yaya, reflecting how modern relationships, gender, and capitalism are closely intertwined. This portrayal of post-modern relationships mirrors the capitalistic patterns of society and the inequalities that Östlund criticizes through the wealthy guests’ interaction with the middle- and lower-class crew. 

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