- Run Time: 2 hours 27 minutess
- Studio: Imperative Entertainment
- Director: Ruben Östlund
- Where to Watch: In Theaters
Carl and Yaya are two young up and coming models that are navigating what it means to be in a relationship. They bicker constantly, but make up shortly afterwards. In an effort to keep the relationship alive, they book two spots on a luxury cruise. As they set sail across the sea, they are introduced to the other guests that include Russian oligarchs, weapons manufacturers, and many other slices of upper tax bracket life. But after a storm hits, the ship, her crew, and guests alike are thrown into disarray the likes of which none are accustomed to and few are equipped to handle.
Rueben Östlund’s two and a half hour social commentary on wealth and gluttony is a decently entertaining for about the first 90 minutes. It’s a good looking movie with a lot of pretty sights and sounds, with an incredibly peppy and diverse cast. Everybody seemed to be having a great time on set and their energy came through the screen in spades. But it starts to drag at that 90 minute mark and feels long in the tooth. I think there’s an extra 15 minutes in each of the three acts that could be trimmed out without losing anything important to the story or the message that Östlund is trying to tell.
Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean star as the model influencer couple main characters. They interact well together and look the part, as both are very much the model type to begin with. They both have their flaws and work through them but still come off as unapproachable, even after the end of the second act. Supporting the main cast is Woody Harrelson as the drunkard American Marxist captain of the luxury cruise ship and Dolly De Leon as Abigail the toilet supervisor. Harrelson’s performance is one that falls into the paycheck column, which is still good, but nothing amazing. The rest of the cruise staff and guests are made up of mostly unrecognizable yet familiar faces as they fulfill their archetypal roles.
Once all hell breaks loose in the middle of the second act, everybody is given free reign to make as many pained grunts, sick moans, and twisted faces possible. The slow movements and up close angles as the ship inhabitants spew their half digested dinners across beautiful dinning rooms and elegant hallways is nothing short of perfect juxtaposition. The third act sees a major reduction in cast as the story progresses to the iffy conclusion. The surviving characters become more in tune with what’s right and wrong on the deserted island but ultimately pivot back to their true natures once they discover their salvation. While these characters fit together like puzzle pieces, they show no growth.
The absurd nature of this 2 and a half hour picture is off the charts. Ruben Östlund’s scathing commentary on wealth, inequality, and the treatment of service workers is nothing short of well intentioned but doesn’t stick the landing. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, which is hard to come by anyway, but it does succeed in making me laugh at the misfortune of the upper tax bracket residents. Anything that gives people like that a dose of tough love is going to be entertaining to watch. I’d love to have their resources, but not at the expense of losing my touch with reality. But it’s just not enough to justify sitting there for 2 and a half hours.