KVIFF 2022: The blue caftan, triangle of sadness, small, slow but regular | Parties and Awards
The first half of “Triangle of Sadness” is a quick and incisive anti-rich statement that hilariously derides the ruthless whims of the wealthy. It’s familiar territory for the director who never retains the gritty impact of his previous “The Square,” but is nonetheless effective (even if the major gag is a dinner scene, which stretches far too long, which turns into vomiting and diarrhoea).
There’s no doubting Östlund’s visual acumen – the camera movement and cinematography have you covered in laughing gas – and yet you’re never quite sure what more Östlund wants to say to except that the rich are bad. Even in the third chapter, when some of them are stranded on a deserted island, he still checks out Carl and Yaya even though they aren’t interesting people. That might be the joke, but it doesn’t come with much of a punchline. The film’s most powerful character is Abigail (Dolly de Leon), a Filipino toilet manager who quickly harnesses power as the group’s only competent survivor. The final shot of “Triangle of Sadness,” in fact, shows Abigail holding a rock above her head as she chooses between keeping this new society or returning to servitude. It’s a powerful image delivered by a terrific performance by de Leon in an overly dark film.
Often your most anticipated movie, in this case “Triangle of Sadness”, can turn out to be your most disappointing. But a movie you don’t expect can bring you to your knees. The latter happened with Japanese director Sho Miyake’s ruminative and painful boxing film “Small, slow but steady.”
Miyake uses the pandemic to his narrative advantage to break all the rules of the sports movie genre for a true story about a deaf female boxer, Keiko Ogasawara (Yukino Kishii), who has lost her will to fight. Keiko spends her days at the seedy local gym owned by a veteran trainer, Mr. Sasaki (Tomokazu Miura), whose eyesight and health fail her. The gymnasium is also under threat of closure due to financial pressures from the pandemic. No one, not Keiko’s committed brother Seiji (Himi Sato) or his worried mother (Hiroko Nakajima) can make him want to compete again. Instead, it requires an extremely silent personal search by Keiko, aided by the silent bond shared between her and Mr. Sasaki, to pull her forward. Miura and Kishii are wonderful together. Their father-daughter dynamic adds a heartwarming outward vibe to a film where the greatest drama often happens internally.
As quiet as any film (the title aptly describes its tone), this sports flick features no rowdy crowds at ringside cheering on Keiko. There are no big speeches or major wins or championships at the end. Keiko fights a relatively insignificant match at the end, actually. But it’s a draw not a deterrent with this piercing and deep narrative. “Small, Slow, But Steady” is a film about life and how sport can teach us to persevere. The greatest victory in this elegantly crafted film – best exemplified in a moving final shot that will have you believing the promise of tomorrow – is simply taking the next step to the next fight, to the next hill to climb, to the next problem. who comes your way.