Writer/director Ruben Ostlund’s broad exploration of the relationship between beauty and power is a dense Euro-satire, a colossal slog that takes two and a half hours to make the rather obvious point that “rich people are useless and behave badly.”
The first of three chapters, “Carl and Vaya,” introduces us to a pair of self-obsessed fashion model celebrities/influencers who find themselves on an ocean cruise for the obscenely rich, payment for a job in lieu of a paycheck.
In the second, “The Yacht,” the director presents a cast of odious, out-of-touch rich folks. This sequence is basically shooting superficial characters in a rain barrel and includes Woody Harrelson’s brief appearance as the ship’s always-drunk captain.
A highlight is a duel of quotes between the captain (a “Marxist American”) and an oligarch (a “capitalist Russian”). This chapter’s anchor is a dining room scene during a big storm that features a lot of Monty Python-esque vomiting. You know, funny. Then pirates attack and blow up the ship
The third, most relatable chapter, “The Island,” upends the social hierarchy when the few uber-wealthy survivors find themselves at the mercy of a toilet-cleaning Filipina because she’s the only one who can catch a fish or start a fire.
None of the characters are sympathetic. Or all that interesting. The comedy is best characterized as “cringe.” Some chuckles, few real laughs. Note: Nominated for Best Picture Oscar. Apparently, it’s possible to fool the Academy as well. (147 min)