When you’re oh so pretty, rich and fawned over like runway model and internet influencer Yaya is, things just come your way. Doors open. Gifts are freely given. She and her (nearly as beautiful) model boyfriend, Carl, even got tickets to this exclusive Mediterranean Yacht trip they’re now enjoying as a complete freebee.
As they lounge on the sparkling-clean deck in their almost-there swimsuits, Yaya and Carl are indeed part of the upper echelon. Of course, not all of the super-rich gathered onboard look as beautifully important as they do.
There’s the fat and slovenly Russian billionaire who made his fortune in fertilizer. (He calls himself the “King of Sh-t”) And the ancient and impeccably mannered British couple who rest on a family fortune gained from landmines and hand grenades. The alcoholic, Marxist ship’s captain who spends his time pickled and locked in his cabin. And several others of similar ilk.
None stand out in a crowd like Yaya and Carl, of course, but they all can move the world at the slightest whim and snap of their fingers. (Such as when the Russian billionaire’s wife drunkenly orders that the whole ship’s crew take a quick swim in the ocean. And of course, they all oblige.)
But even the most beautiful, the most wealthy and the most powerful can’t control everything. When the skies turn stormy and the seas start to roil, and the seven-course captain’s dinner begins to, uh, return … repeatedly … from all possible source points, everyone is powerless.
And when the angry seas (and other things) send a luxury yacht to the ocean floor, well, everyone onboard—runway models, ship’s crew and duty maids—are, shall we say, left in the same boat. Or lack thereof.
Suddenly, beauty and money mean far less. But control? Ah, those reins may be snatched in the most unexpected ways.
Nearly everyone in this story has their own agenda that might, on the surface, seem upright (such as Carl’s desire to push against negative gender expectations in his relationship with Yaya). But eventually everyone’s choices prove to be rather self-serving and manipulative.
That isn’t a positive, of course. But with the right mindset, it could be seen as the movie’s encouragement that we should all make better choices and be better people.
As models, both Yaya and Carl are fit, physically attractive people, and we see them in various states of undress. Carl, for instance, is shirtless through at least half of the film. Yaya wears a couple very skimpy bikinis that leave very little to the imagination and, later, a tattered dress that exposes lots of flesh. We see the couple in bed, naked but covered. And Yaya’s breast is exposed at one point after she’s washed up on an islands beach.
Carl has a naked female torso tattooed on his thigh. A man talks to him about being a model and having to contend with gay men who want to sleep with him. During a runway audition Carl performs on cue with a room full of similarly shirtless men.
A woman is violently ill while nearly naked—exposing her backside and breasts as she rolls back and forth in a bathroom. A man sits naked on a toilet. A woman displays a great deal of cleavage. We see a couple women in bikinis.
[Spoiler Warning] After ending up shipwrecked on an unknown island, Carl is called upon to sleep with a relatively unattractive woman who has taken control. He gladly takes on the role of her “trophy” sexual partner in exchange for better sleeping quarters and better portions of food. We see them in the midst of an obvious sexual activity, both are at least partially covered by a blanket. They kiss.
The storm that hits the large yacht is pretty violent all on its own. It causes the large boat to churn side-to-side, causing tables, bottles and glasses to tumble and smash. Some passengers also stumble and fall down staircases because of the upheaval. The roiling seas also cause people to slam into the floors and walls in their cabin bathrooms. (Some are knocked unconscious in the turmoil.)
[Spoiler Warning] After the devastating storm, the yacht is also attacked by a group of heavily armed pirates. We see several explosions on the boat from a distance. (One of those is a hand grenade that sends an elderly couple flying over a railing into the ocean.)
Only a handful of people survive and wash up on a nearby islands shore. One man finds his dead wife and kisses her corpse while removing her jewelry. Someone has a heart attack and must be shocked with a defibrillator. Male survivors corner a donkey in the islands brush. One bashes the braying beast repeatedly with a very large stone. He comes back covered in the animal’s blood.
A woman, who realizes that she may lose her power if a secret is revealed, picks up a large rock to kill someone (though the camera cuts away before we see her commit the act).
We hear more than 15 f-words and about the same number of s-words in the dialogue, along with a single use of the word “a–hole.”
Jesus’ and God’s names are both misused a half-dozen times total (one of those combining God’s name with “d–n.”)
While still on the cruise, all the passengers and the captain drink beer, wine, champagne and harder booze profusely. We see many of them very drunk on numerous occasions.
In fact, the captain and Dimitri, the Russian billionaire, continue to drink and get staggeringly intoxicated during the big storm. They end up locking themselves in a pilotless control center, arguing drunkenly over the ship’s intercom.
A man smokes a cigar.
The film features a protracted, slow-burn set of scenes that begin with a seven-course dinner. But thanks to the violent seas, heavy drinking and possible food-poisoning, the action devolves into nearly everyone onboard getting violently ill.
Passengers slosh back and forth in their bathrooms, some naked or minimally dressed, vomiting and defecating explosively in a grotesque nightmare of sight and sound. Eventually the yacht’s sewage system erupts, spewing feces and sewage up and out of the cabin toilets and down the hallways like a foul flood.
People lie and manipulate others. The film points out how completely heartless and puerile the modeling industry is. (And it suggests that the business of being an online influencer isn’t much different.)
Many will see Triangle of Sadness as a blunt, in-your-face social satire—a backhanded slap at capitalism and the societal inequities that system can propagate. But if you look beyond the tongue-in-cheek histrionics and slapstick retching of this Gilligan’s-Island-meets-Lord-of-the-Flies tale, you’ll find a film that actually speaks to the basest nature of mankind itself.
We are a broken bunch who will always fall short, it tells us. We are sinners who will step on each other’s necks, stoop to any low, manipulate and even kill for our place in the pack. That’s a stark, artfully built message that doesn’t require a great deal of introspective thought.
Of course, while you may think of mankind’s brokenness through a biblical lens, this film does not. So you won’t find any suggested solutions for our congregate plight, nor any shred of virtues like courage or self-sacrifice.
Instead, what you will find is a boldly insightful, decidedly foul and excrementally slapstick movie. Whether or not that equals “entertainment,” is up to you.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.