Triangle of Sadness Review and Ending Explained – a Vantablack Comedy That’s Far From Pompous

By Marc Miller
Published: December 29, 2022 (Last updated: February 26, 2024)
Triangle of Sadness Review and Ending Explained
Triangle of Sadness (Image Credit to Curzon)


The fact of the matter is Triangle of Sadness is as far from being a pompous comedy as one can get. A black comedy that offers ego-driven monsters a look in the mirror, and those watching outside the social elite can giggle and cringe in delight.

Let me know if I have this right. Ruben Östlund’s film Triangle of Sadness, a blistering Vantablack satire on the lack of morality that comes with beauty and the wealthy elite, was given an eight-minute standing ovation after its premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Palme d’Or award for Best Picture.

So, has anyone asked if they missed the film’s point entirely? Is the film making fun of and shining a light on their self-aggrandized importance? The mere fact that the audience applauds a harsh look in the mirror of ego-driven monsters brings a whole new meaning to the phrase if you look around the room and don’t see the sucker, you’re it.

Thankfully, the film is not insufferable for the viewer, who can giggle and cringe in delight over the social elite getting a dose of their own medicine. At least the ones who are on the outside looking in like the rest of us.

The Triangle of Sadness review and plot summary

Triangle of Sadness follows a celebrity couple in the prime of their social media age. Carl (played by Harris Dickinson) and his “girlfriend” Yaya (the late Charlbi Dean, brilliant here) are a couple of models posing for their cell phones to upload constant contact of their beauty that a higher deity has seemingly blessed.

They lead the “IG” life that has no actual use or value in the real world. The kind that will go away quickly. You know what I mean. When they get old and bloated, and unless Carl has a dome like Jason Statham, baldness will be a detractor. Each knows their work is on a short shelf life, so much they quibble over dinner checks like each piece of paper is their last will and testament.

However, they know they are a social media power couple, and it’s good for business. So they head off on a luxury cruise for the filthy rich. Along the way, they take as many selfies as possible.

We are talking about everything from your classic poolside shots to the “Look at me eating lots of carbs and still so thin” ones right before Yaya tosses aside a large chunk of tangled spaghetti she was pretending to eat. The ship’s captain (played by Woody Harrelson) is going through an existential crisis, the type you don’t want in your large travel vehicles in the middle of nowhere.

The boat has a wide variety of the truly morally bankrupt. Paula (Vicki Berlin) is the staff manager who tries to keep the peace the best she can. There’s the opinionated Russian billionaire Dimitry (Zlatko Buric), who’s a bit of a brute.

A “toilet manager,” Abigail (a hilarious Dolly De Leon), the film’s best character, has found new leadership capabilities. All this comes to a head when the ship passes through a terrible storm where everyone experiences a terrible bout of seas sickness. (Put it this way, everyone has their own Mr. Creosote moment).

The ship begins to sink, and a small portion of its tenants are now stuck on a deserted island. Remember that they are armed with only their cell phones and no charger.

Östlund’s film is smart and not afraid to make fun of itself or the ones they idolize while holding high esteem. There are a half dozen priceless scenes in the film. Like Harrelson’s and Buric’s characters only capable reason for having an intellectual discussion is the help of Google searches for quotes fitting their moral beliefs, which they know nothing about.

You’ll cringe and cover your eyes as Carl tries to defend why he has to pay the dinner bill for his stunning girlfriend. He cannot stop putting his foot in his mouth.

And of all scenes that astutely sum up the dark commerce themes of Triangle of Sadness —  no one knows how to save a buck like the uber-wealthy — when a character’s dead spouse washes up on the beach, they don’t hesitate to pull off all their jewelry.

Even before the shock settles in, suggesting these people are incapable of feelings that go beyond shallow. Östlund’s script is full of these moments. These are made simple with some brilliant performances.

Most notably, the late Charlbi Dean, whose presence and delivery are priceless. Buric has some of the film’s dark, gasp-inducing moments. However, the breakout star is Dolly De Leon. She plays one of the only characters who truly first with the morally bankrupted everyone else swims in. Now that she has a taste of it, can she go back?

This is a comedy as far from pompous as you can get. I would argue that Triangle of Sadness is not too long. In fact, it had to go a step further. Yes, it’s far from perfect, but that’s because Östlund takes some real chances with his script here and allows his cast to do the same.

While the ending of Triangle of Sadness is a bit of a headscratcher, it leaves the viewer open to the possibilities of coming up with their interpretation. That hurts the film slightly, but you’ll walk away satisfied you saw a hilarious comedy that never failed to play it safe.

If only they had taken that one dark step further.

Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson in Triangle of Sadness via IMDb

Triangle of Sadness ending explained

What happened at the end of the Triangle of Sadness?

Abigail and Yaya stumble upon a five-star resort and a sunbathing area with an elevator built into a mountain. Yaya is celebrating and wants to enter those doors, but Abigail asks her to sit and enjoy the moment. She then pretends she has to use the bathroom and grabs a large rock the size of a person’s head. She slowly approaches Yaya, with the implication of killing her.

Why? Because if they enter those elevators, things go back to normal. Abigail will have to leave her position of esteem and power and return to being a “toilet manager,” which settles in. Especially after Yaya, staring into the ocean, tells Abigail she wants to help her. How? By making her an assistant to her social media influencer empire.

That’s when you see Abigail’s face start to snap. When you think she will smash the boulder into Yaya’s head, the film cut’s to Carl racing frantically through the woods. That’s when the film ends.

Why was Carl running at the end of Triangle of Sadness?

This is open to interpretation. For all we know, Carl is being chased by that polar bear in Lost. However, considering Abigail was just about to kill Yaya in a way that’d get Shirley Jackson’s seal of approval, our theory is simple. The remaining survivors were most likely notified of what Therese already knew. The German woman, who stays in the raft because on the ship is bound to a wheelchair, is approached by a hospitality worker. We theorize that someone came across them or heard her talking loudly to the man and then ran over with concern.

If Carl is notified of this, he must start to think about Abigail and Yaya. He is either running with great urgency to let them know of their finding, or something more ominous has come over his mind.

Knowing Abigail better than anyone, he has seen how she has succumbed to the seductive element of power. Knowing the same feeling he felt when part of the social elite, he would probably do anything to take it back. Carl could easily see Abigail coming across the resort, killing Yaya to keep the secret and resume her place on top of the social hierarchy. Something she never had until now and will likely never obtain again.

This speaks to writer and director Ruben Östlund’s wanting to create a human dilemma that many outside the social elite and hierarchy can relate to.

What is the message of Triangle of Sadness?

The film’s title, Triangle of Sadness, refers to an area of the face where a model operates to express different emotions in their poses. The place where the face rests between someone’s eyebrows.

According to the film, this is where someone’s stress levels are most evident. You see this at the beginning of the film with Carl at his modeling audition and when Abigail is struggling with her morals as she is working up the courage to start Swimming with the Sharks.

The message behind Triangle of Sadness is the gaps between the social elite and the hierarchy, and questions a society that puts so much money and power in beauty and morally questionable ways to make a living. Also, the theme of exaggerating their self-importance in a world based on the facade of money, beauty, and power can bring.

One of the few people without power, Abigail, is not corrupt and has real-life skills to help her survive the island. Then why does Abigail want to kill Yaya? While we know the others have been corrupted by power, we never see how they landed at the destination.

With Abigail, we watch her slowly lose her values by being corrupted by power. She takes more food than the others. Abigail becomes the sole authority, punishing those who do not carry their weight. She even learns the seductive use of power all too literally by having Carl be her concubine.

What did you think of the ending of Triangle of Sadness? Comment below.

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