Filmmaker Mike Mylod – who has previously worked on class-skewering media including Shameless and Succession – also takes aim at the elite with The Menu, proving that there’s no shortage of work attempting to take the wealthy to task for their overconsumption and ambivalence. But can these works actually have a material impact or is ‘eat the rich’ now a hollow call to arms, with the audiences populated by the very people these films attempt to ridicule?
Ruben Östlund is no stranger to provocation, and his previous satire – The Square, set in the ripe-for-ridicule world of fine art – also won the top prize at Cannes, praised for its impish send-up of petty gallerists and out-of-touch artists. Triangle of Sadness, set aboard a luxury yacht which shipwrecks on an apparently deserted island, aims to similarly address the difference between the haves and the have-nots. Unfolding as a sort of upstairs-downstairs story between the ship’s out-of-touch passengers and the staff who tend to their every whim, the everyman is represented by young couple Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) who find themselves on the trip due to Yaya’s career as an influencer. It’s obvious they don’t quite fit in with the other passengers (including a manure magnate, an elderly arms dealer, and a nerdy entrepreneur celebrating the recent sale of his company) but they’re happy to make a go of it all the same. On the staff side, there’s the self-avowed Marxist captain Thomas (Woody Harrelson) who talks the talk but seems reluctant to walk the walk, and Abigail (Dolly DeLeon) a Filipina cleaner who proves the only member of the group with any sort of survival skills when the holiday goes awry.