Beauty is scary.. looks are a currency

Director Ruben Östlund on the starting point for Triangle Of Sadness

by Richard Mowe

From left, Harris Dickinson, Ruben Östlund and Charlbi Dean
From left, Harris Dickinson, Ruben Östlund and Charlbi Dean Photo: Richard Mowe
When Swedish director Ruben Östlund met his wife Andrea, a fashion photographer eight years ago little did he realise she would a provide a key to his new outing Triangle Of Sadness which starts off with buffed male models at a bitchy casting session.

“After we met I wanted to know everything about the fashion industry and how it works. Beauty can be attractive but it is also scary and a model’s looks are a currency,” said the director who won the Palme d’Or and an Oscar nomination for The Square.

Östlund likes the idea of a pact between a filmmaker and his audience. For Triangle Of Sadness he held test screenings in Berlin, Stockholm and Spain where in a rural village 30 people gathered together to watch the film. “They had no experience of cinema but they were laughing and screaming straight out. We forget that we as an audience are also part of the show. We Europeans are not a good audience because we sit with our arms crossed.”

Woody Harrelson at today’s Cannes media scrum: 'My character is a Marxist, but I’m an anarchist'
Woody Harrelson at today’s Cannes media scrum: 'My character is a Marxist, but I’m an anarchist' Photo: Richard Mowe
Woody Harrelson who plays the drunken captain of a luxury yacht, joined his co-stars Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson for a meet the media session in Cannes. “My character is a Marxist, but I’m an anarchist,” said Harrelson mischievously.

More seriously he said he thought it was “abominable when a super power with all this military might and with no provocation attacks a country that is Ukraine”.

He believed in many ways that the director let his character “be the message of the film”.

Clearly the pair hit it off well, so much so that Harrelson has agreed to be in Östlund's next film The Entertainment System Is Down in which he plays the captain on a long haul airplane. The new film is inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

“Ruben is own thing,” says Harrelson. “He works in visceral and exciting ways and gets all this energy from the actors.”

One of the ways he creates atmosphere on set is with gong which he uses when there are only five takes left. Östlund added: “We do a special countdown to create impetus and that makes everyone give their best - like a football team in the final minutes. It is often the second or last take that we use.”

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