Triangle of Sadness: the movie’s ending, explained

Triangle of Sadness

Awarded with the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness (the skin between eyebrows which is ‘fixed’ with botox) is a dark satirical comedy with its take on the uber-rich.

Spoilers Ahead!

Carl and Yaya’s Backstory

The movie is divided into three parts. The first is Carl and Yaya’s story. While Yaya is quite a famous model, her model boyfriend Carl makes less than her and is sensitive. In a fight they both have over bill, Yaya expects him to pay for it while he believes they should behave equally- without typical gender roles.

Apart from the topic of gender roles, this part also showcases Carl’s frustration on modern feminism and with Yaya’s inability to rationally talk on the topic of money. At the end of this part, Yaya confesses to being manipulative and reveals she wants to be a trophy wife. Carl bets on making her fall in love with him for real.

A Yacht Trip with the Uber Rich

In part 2, the couple is on a super luxury yacht for free with moguls and billionaires aboard. The crew is instructed to keep guest happy at all costs. They meet a Russian couple- with perhaps the man, Dimitri’s, sugar baby- and converse. A lonely shy tech guy named Jorma and others.

The Russian’s wife, Vera, insists the crew goes for a slide and swim to enjoy to which they reluctantly oblige. During this time, Chief Paula is after the cruises’ Captain but he’s locked up drunk in his room. Later, for the Captain’s Dinner, he chooses a night with bad weather.

Chaos begins during the Captain’s Dinner

The boat is shown as tilting- lightly at first, but with each passing scene, more strongly. The dinner guests arrive to a rocking boat and storm outside. Captain meets with people and are served dinner, but soon, they start getting seasick. In between conversations, people vomit, poop, go off or start drinking more.

It goes on for a while until it becomes unbearable. Everyone rushes off to their rooms and create mess. Except the Captain and Dimitri, who talk socialism, communism and capitalism. They get super drunk and things go further downhill.

Drunk, they both lock themselves in the room with microphone and create panic by broadcasting ‘mayday!’. Captain gives out a speech about rich-poor, some communist quote-off and more satire when the lights go out. Out of nowhere, a hand grenade is thrown on the boat, sinking it.

Stranded, alone and with no means

A few hours later in part 3, some passengers are stranded on an island. These include Carl and Yaya, Chief Paula, Jorma, Dimitri, crewman Nelson and a disabled woman Theresa. Later, they find a cleaning lady- Abigail- in the lifeboat.

Soon, the rich are shown their place by Abigail. She finds food, makes fire and cooks and then proclaims herself the captain of the island. No one has any choice but to agree and Abigail forms a matriarchal rule for the people. They get in a rhythm soon until one night Abigail asks Carl to sleep in the lifeboat. Yaya understands what might happen and he reassures her. But gossip travels anyways. When Dimitri’s wife washes up dead on the shore, he grieves but also takes off her jewels.

The ending to this survival-turned movie

The ending scenes show Carl torn up between Abigail and Yaya. Yaya comes to get the backpack for a hike but Abigail joins her. They hike and Yaya commends her for her brave rule and is impressed. They continue a tedious hike up until Yaya- who’s ahead- screams for Abigail.

What they’ve considered to be a desolate island houses a luxury spa and resort, in front of who’s entrance they now stand. Abigail looks troubled and stops Yaya from going for a bit. On the pretence to pee, Abigail goes behind Yaya and comes up with a large stone held in front of her- possibly planning to hit her.

But Yaya speaks up, telling Abigail that she can help her. That she can come be her assistant once they go back. Abigail is shown as having troubled, reluctant expression. The scene cuts here and Carl is running in the last few seconds.

Now, the ending is open ended. Whether Abigail killed Yaya, to keep the resort a secret from others and keep her power over the rich or agreed with Yaya and later went on to work with her, we don’t know. Carl might be running to find both or just Yaya.

In an interview with A.Frame Oscars, director Östlund says, “I wanted the film to be wild and entertaining, and I wanted to surprise the audience with turning points.”