The disgusting rich. The struggling poor. A boat. An island. Tables are turned. People are murdered. Those five elements drove three of the best movies this year. I swear I didn’t manipulate this, but the three movies ended up in 4th, 3rd and 2nd place on my list, so the next three days will examine this trilogy.
This was my least favorite of the three but I still loved it. An extremely wicked satire of inequality. It has no likeable characters, which is always a tough row for a movie to hoe, but this movie shows that it can work. The next two movies we’ll look will introduce us to their boats and islands though the eyes of jaundiced outsiders, but in this movie our POV characters are shallow models and influencers. We come to share their frustrations (with each other and the world), but never root for them or like them. When the pirates show up, we’re relieved that someone has finally arrived to give these characters their comeuppance and we hope they spare none of the passengers. (The line “Is this one of ours?” is the funniest movie moment of the year. See the movie to understand.)
So why does the movie work? The characters are unlikeable, but they are recognizably human. The male character’s key trait is that he just won’t let things go, even when his points are petty and meaningless. It’s annoying, but an annoying trait that we’ve all fallen prey to at one time or another and we certainly wince to see our own weakness embodied and magnified so memorably.
It helps that they suffer so mightily before the movie ends, earning our begrudging sympathy simply because nobody, not even these louses, deserve to suffer so much. I think all the vomit and shit helps, though it made the movie even harder to take as it erupted onscreen for a long 10 minute sequence. Life reaches down their throats and rips forth their humanity for all to see.
This was definitely another case of Betsy and I checking the time and being shocked that there was another 50 minutes left in the movie. As with The Fabelmans, I was initially annoyed to find the movie starting over again in a new location at the 90 minute mark, but the new location turned out to be fertile new storytelling ground and provided a delightful escalation of all the movie’s themes.