A return to Cannes for Ruben stlund, who won the top prize there in 2017 for his film The Square, showcases another caustic satire on the human condition. While his previous film took aim at the art world, Triangle of Sadness focuses on the world of high fashion and the global one percent.

A supermodel pair (played by Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean) who have to rely only on their physical attractiveness to make it to the top.

ruben ostlund on capitalism satire triangle of sadness

(The term “Botox” is what cosmetic doctors call the procedure used to get rid of frown lines between the eyes, which is where the movie gets its title). Woody Harrelson, Henrik Dorsin, Zlatko Buric, Iris Berben, and Oliver Ford Davies are just few of the stars that make up the international ensemble cast.

stlund discussed “the currency of beauty,” the real-world inspiration behind all of his works, and why his last three films form a “trilogy of male silliness” in an interview with the Cannes Film Festival’s press office ahead of the festival.

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I Recall You Discussing this Film Soon After You were Awarded the Palme d’Or for The Square. What was the Holdup that Necessitated such a Lengthy Delivery Time?

There may have been a little of “post-success syndrome” at play. Have you also seen that some executives get complacent when they achieve even modest success, and the scope of their next undertaking continues to balloon?

This film cost around twice as much to make as my other films, therefore its financing took a little longer. Furthermore, the pandemic did occur. Because of the spread of COVID, production was halted twice. There was a delay, so we had to regroup.

As opposed to my usual three years, this one took five because of post-success syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Keeping my mind and interest on the movie’s subject matter for an additional two years was a test of my stamina.

But I think the extra time I spent on the script paid off in the final product. I also think the COVID checkpoints played a role. It helped, in my opinion, because the film is already rather cutting-edge. It’s got three completely separate parts: it’s a big deal in the fashion industry.

The ride then transfers us to a swanky yacht, which winds up on a deserted island. In a lot of ways, it helped to have some breathing room in my schedule.

Personal experiences can have an instant impact on the movies you make. Who or what sparked the idea that eventually became Triangle of Sadness?

You’ve Already Hinted that the Internet Marketplace for this Beauty Currency You’re Referring to is Instagram. Did you look into that Realm, and if so, What did You Find Out?

I came across a poll that was presented to fifth graders and asked, “Would you rather be beautiful or smart?”

And a surprisingly high number of them claimed they could pass for pretty. In contrast, modern models need to be more than just pretty faces; they also need to serve as walking billboards for their brands.

Your Instagram account needs at least 200,000 followers if you want to be taken seriously for employment. If you don’t have these qualities, you won’t even be considered for job castings.

Our current monetary setup is quite granular, reaching down to the individual level. You are your own model, advertising platform, and business entity, and you are constantly in the process of developing and promoting your identity.

After Seeing Force Majeure and The Square, I’ve Heard that this Film Serves as a Guiding Light for You. Why are these Three Movies Connected?

Well, I never intended it as a trilogy, but when I started thinking about the film’s themes and the main male characters, I realised that they all struggle with the role of the individual within society and the expectations of what it means to be a man in today’s world.

Consider the “bill scene” from Triangle of Sadness, in which the male and female models are at a restaurant and the female model tells the male, “I’ll deal with you.” However, she doesn’t even bother to retrieve the bill when it arrives.

This is something I’ve experienced firsthand. This is where the bill is, and I refuse to deal with it. I really need to check it out.

In an instant, the girl across from me responds, “Thank you so much.” In that case, I have no choice except to make a payment.

This actually happened to Susan and myself. Still, I liked her so much that I decided to take the bull by the horns and tell her how I really feel and how uneasy I used to feel about sexism in general.

The moment I hear the word “thanks,” I have no other option but to hand out cash. After that, she said, “We can split the bill if you like,” and I felt a great deal of embarrassment when she brought out the calculator and so on. At that that moment, just by bringing it up, I felt like I’d lost my manhood.

It’s a feeling I’m all too familiar with: the internal struggle between my ideal self and the reality I currently face. Many of the situations depicted in these three films are drawn directly from my own life.

Your Movies Suggest That being a Human in the Modern World is Fundamentally Ridiculous.

Quite frequently, I feel like I’m suffocating in the culture of the place I currently call home. I feel boxed in by cultural norms even though I desperately want to escape them.

There’s the catch-22 of doing what’s practical and doing what feels right. The ridiculousness originates from the fact that I deliberately craft my scenes to make the protagonists’ lives as challenging as possible.

I like to put myself in the shoes of the characters and perform a sociological study of my own actions. Such, I try to adjust the settings so that it lasts longer. But it must always be believable for my story’s characters to act the way they do.

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Tell Me About the Sequence You had the Greatest Problem with when Filming this Movie.

Well, I used to think that the Marxist captain on board would keep his captain’s meal going even in a storm, as a form of payback against the uber-wealthy passengers who challenge his political vision.

So we have this seven-course meal where, gradually, more and more people start feeling seasick and puking up.

In New York, we built the ship’s interior, including the dining hall and main hall. Moreover, we mounted it on a gimbal so that we can tilt it 20 degrees in both directions; consequently, the furniture now actually glides across the floor.

It was a massive challenge and took a long time to film the sequence in which the ship’s passengers and captain become more seasick and inebriated until the skipper is reading the communist manifesto while everyone around him throws up. Similarly, to ensure a proper edit.