In Ruben Östlund’s wickedly funny Palme d’Or winner, social hierarchy is turned upside down, revealing the tawdry relationship between power and beauty. Celebrity model couple, Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich, helmed by an unhinged boat captain (Woody Harrelson). What first appeared instagrammable ends catastrophically, leaving the survivors stranded on a desert island and fighting for survival. -Official Synopsis
Casting Juror: Can you relax your triangle of sadness? Like between your eyebrows here? A little bit more. OK. And open your mouth so you look a bit more available. OK, not that much, a little bit less.
The opening sequence w/ the casting of male models was inspired by writer/director Ruben Östlund’s wife (a fashion photographer). This is the Swedish director’s 1st film in English. This marks the 2nd time that Östlund has was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes; he previously won for The Square (2017). British actor Harris Dickinson (now 27 y.o.) won his role after 120 others had auditioned; he spent some time in the Royal Marines Cadets, so he’d have known exactly how to survive on a desert island (unlike Carl). This role is a far cry from Dickinson’s (villainous/macho) one in the disappointing movie Where the Crawdads Sing (2022). Charlbi Dean (a South African model-turned-actress) sadly died after the film’s release at age 32; no cause of death was released (though she had a lung infection, complicated by the fact that she’d lost her spleen years before in a car accident).
We [he and his wife] started talking about fashion and the strategy of marketing, and beauty as a currency. Beauty is attractive, but it’s also scary. Beauty is settling the hierarchy so much- that was really the starting point. -Ruben Ostlund
One critic commented that this (NO hold barred) dark comedy/satire is like 3 movies in one. Another said that “nothing is subtle about it’s delivery or message.” The 1st act (titled Part I) is about the relationship btwn two 20-ish models- Carl (Dickinson) and Yaya (Dean)- who are having relationship probs. Carl (though he posed for a fancy cologne ad a few yrs ago) now makes much less money than his gf, Yaya (who walks Paris runways). However, Yaya (who is also an influencer) is happy to let Carl pay for dinner (at a snooty/pricy) restaurant. (FYI: We learn that male models make about 1/3 of what the females in their field make.) Carl says: “I want us to be equals and is in love w/ Yaya. She nonchalantly admits that she’s waiting to become “a trophy wife.” Hmmm, we wonder IF they can make it (in the long-run)?
[Quoting From Noam Chomsky’s Book: How the World Works]
The Captain: ‘How people perceive themselves is nothing that interests me. There are very few that are gonna look in the mirror and say: The person I see is a savage monster. Instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.’
Part II takes place on a luxury yacht (price: $250M) somewhere in the Mediterranean. The diverse crew is made up of Aussies, Greeks, Filipinos, etc. The guests are from all over the world, incl. England, Germany, and Russia. There are a motley crew of character actors which we meet; most are terrible people, though a few are NOT unsympathetic. The boat’s possibly alcoholic/Marxist captain is played by Woody Harrelson (which will come as a surprise to some viewers)! IF you’re a squeamish/sensitive viewer, this section has gross elements (as I noted re: Babylon). As for Part III, I’m NOT going to say much, but it’s quite unexpected! This is the most interesting part of the movie; earlier parts tended to drag on (and could’ve been edited down more). Why are movies SO long lately!?