‘What is my position in this hierarchy?’ asks Ostlund. — AFP photo

Sunday May 22, 2022 07:52 GMT

CANNES, May 22 – Swedish cult director Ruben Ostlund wowed the Cannes Film Festival with a rollercoaster film about glamour, class, silly money and human nature yesterday, involving the drunken delivery of Karl Marx quotes and Ronald Reagan, and scenes of mass seasick stomach churning.

Five years after winning the Palme d’Or with The placeOstlund is back with triangle of sadnessa film on a large canvas initially on two models that quickly widens to include the super-rich and their eccentricities.

Events turn their world upside down, creating an unexpected reshuffling of power structures.

“I think human beings are very sensitive to hierarchies. Every day talks about: what is my position in this hierarchy? Ostlund told AFP in an interview.

On one level, the film can be read as a critique of capitalism and its excesses, he said. In a key scene from the film, the captain of a luxury yacht – played by American star Woody Harrelson – and a Russian billionaire, both drunk, exchange quotes from philosopher Karl Marx and hardcore capitalist Ronald Reagan, the late president. American. “Reagan was funnier,” Ostlund concluded.

“Raised by a Communist”

Ostlund, 48, said his Swedish upbringing during the Cold War years was instrumental in shaping his worldview.

“I was raised by a mother who still calls herself a communist,” he said. “I grew up during the Cold War. There were two conflicting ideologies: capitalism and communism.

“I kinda thought it was over. But it’s almost like now, with Russia invading Ukraine, all of a sudden we’re talking about the east and the west again. All in Describing himself as a “socialist who believes in a strong state and a mixed economy”, Ostlund said he never meant to portray the rich as evil although “they should stop bullshitting and paying taxes”.

“I didn’t want to portray the rich as bad guys. I wanted to understand their behavior,” the director said. But he added: “Capitalism is so good at exploiting all our needs and all our fears, where we live, our food, and makes money with our creativity and everything we do. English actor Harris Dickinson, who plays male model Carl who is in a relationship with influencer Yaya – played by South African Charlbi Dean – said Ostlund’s film is ultimately about what makes people tick. .

“The film is provocative,” Dickinson said. “It’s a clever focus on our behavior, our beliefs and our morality. It is a matter of human nature rather than politics. Dean said human behavior, like that seen in some scenes in the film, is often driven by circumstances, not preconceptions.

“We often say to ourselves ‘I would never do that’. But if you were in a similar situation, wouldn’t you behave in the same way? she asked.

“A Little Dilemma”

Despite their jetset lifestyles and perfect looks, both characters are plagued with insecurities. Carl easily gets jealous and Yaya thinks she may have to become “someone’s trophy wife” once her modeling days are over.

“In the industry, you have a short career,” said Dean, who is both an actress and a model herself.

“It starts very young, but at 22 it starts to decline, unless you’re lucky. So as a model you often wonder what’s next,” she said.

Ostlund said he reveled in the awkwardness of Swedish social norms that inspired many of his film scenes.

“In Sweden, we are ashamed of social situations,” Ostlund said. “I love it when the expectation of how we should behave puts us in a bit of a dilemma.”

A restaurant scene in the film leading to a big fight over who should pay the bill was inspired by Ostlund’s own similar experience with his future wife at a restaurant in Cannes. “And I’m married to her now.”

Among the 21 films in the running for the coveted Palme are two other Scandinavian candidates: sky boySwedish Tarik Saleh and Danish-Iranian Ali Abbasiholy spider”.

Abbasi’s and Saleh’s films draw heavily on their immigrant backgrounds.

Abbasi left Tehran for Sweden in 2002, while Saleh was born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and an Egyptian father.

The Palme d’Or will be awarded on May 28. —AFP