QCinema review: Oscar buzz is real for Dolly de Leon in 'Triangle of Sadness'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Nov 18 2022 12:19 PM | Updated as of Nov 18 2022 12:42 PM

Dolly de Leon in a scene from 'Triangle of Sadness'
Dolly de Leon in a scene from 'Triangle of Sadness'

The QCinema Film Festival was born 10 years ago, with only 3 films in its maiden lineup. This year, there are no less than 58 films in 7 sections -- including several films nominated by their countries to the Best International Film category of the Oscars, as well as international films where Filipino actors made a mark this year. Also part of the line-up are the final film by Ms. Cherie Gil, the latest from Lav Diaz, and digitally-restored classics like Mike de Leon's "Itim." 

The opening film is "Triangle of Sadness" by acclaimed Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund. This black comedy premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May this year, and walked away with the coveted Palme d'Or (already Östlund's second after "The Square" in 2017). For Filipinos though, the main selling point of this film is the strong Oscar buzz around a possible Oscar nomination for Filipina actress Dolly de Leon, making it even more of a must-watch.

Östlund told the story of "Triangle" in three parts. Part 1 was about models Carl and Yaya as they argue about paying for dinner, money and gender stereotypes. Part 2 was about Carl and Yaya's free cruise onboard a luxury yacht, the uber-wealthy passengers they met, all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Part 3 was about Carl and Yaya and their fellow survivors on a deserted island after a stormy night of seasickness and pirates

Part 1 poked fun at the shallowness of the modeling industry and the pettiness of the people in it. While it seemed out of sync with the rest of the film, it did prepare us for the darkly comic mood this movie was going for. The main satiric meat of the film was in the over-the-top Part 2 particularly with the graphic dinner scene which will get everyone sick in the stomach yet still be rollicking fun to watch. The twist of Part 3 hits hard, whatever social stratum you're in.

Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean make a good attractive lead couple Carl and Yaya, both well-aware of the irony in their characters. Zlatko Burić and Sunnyi Melles as Russian fertilizer magnates Dimitry and Vera, who figure in some of the film's most memorably disgusting scenes. Hollywood star Woody Harrelson played the drunkard captain, while Vicki Berlin played Paula, the chief of the service crew.

Of course, there is Dolly de Leon. As Abigail, the toilet manager of the yacht, we do not see her in most of the film, but in Part 3, de Leon is front and center. With a dominating screen presence despite her petite physical stature, there is no way she could be ignored. Her transformation from a lowly housekeeper on the yacht to a no-nonsense big shot among billionaires was the primary social commentary of the whole film. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

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