Triangle of Sadness earned an enormous amount of talk on the 2022 film festival circuit. Ruben Östlund created a relentless satire about the rich and beautiful, but its plot left audiences with one huge question: What happened to Yaya in the Triangle of Sadness ending? One of the actors had a very confident response during a press conference at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival that gave a definitive answer to the question.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from Triangle of Sadness.]
‘Triangle of Sadness’ ending explained
The first chapter of Triangle of Sadness follows male model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and his social influencer girlfriend, Yaya (Charlbi Dean). Despite arguing, they agree to go on a yacht cruise for the super-rich. However, Yaya was given tickets for free thanks to her celebrity status on social media.
The second chapter finds the yacht crew dealing with their entitled, rich clientele. They have some ridiculous demands, but their training tells them that they’re never allowed to say “no” under any circumstances. At the Captain’s Dinner led by Woody Harrelson’s Captain, the passengers get sick out of both ends while they’re trying to enjoy their fine dining experience. The yacht ultimately sinks, leaving only a handful of survivors to fend for themselves.
The power dynamic completely shifts when they’re stranded on an island. Yaya and Carl are among the survivors, but crew member Abigail (Dolly de Leon) is the only person with survival skills, including fishing and fire-starting. As a result, she holds all the power, and the remainder of the survivors must bend to her will. Some of them manage to kill a donkey for food with a stone in a disturbing scene. Abigail secretly starts a sexual relationship with Carl, who simply wants more access to the easy life. Yaya suspects something and becomes increasingly angry.
The Triangle of Sadness ending finds Yaya going on a hike to explore the island, but Abigail insists on following her. Yaya discovers they were on an island with a resort the entire time. However, Abigail convinces her to wait a moment before she collects a stone, holding it over Yaya’s head. With her back turned to Abigail, Yaya tells her she wants to hire her as her assistant when she gets home. Abigail looks conflicted as the movie cuts to Carl, who quickly runs across the island, keeping Yaya’s fate a mystery.
Dolly De Leon answers if Abigail killed Yaya
De Leon participated in the Triangle of Sadness press conference at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where she talked about the ending. A journalist asked the actor if she knew if Yaya survived or if Abigail followed through and killed her. De Leon admitted that she needed to ask Östlund for permission before giving her answer.
“I’ve been asked that question many times, and I asked Ruben’s permission if I could give my answer,” de Leon said. “To me, she dies. Of course, Abigail kills her. Of course. Absolutely … And she kills Yaya exactly the way Jarmo (Henrik Dorsin) killed the donkey. Exactly that way. [Motion slamming] Bap, bap, bap, bap.”
However, de Leon added that unlike how the crew handles the donkey killing, she wouldn’t cry after killing Yaya. She also doesn’t have to drag her body across the beach, as she simply leaves her there.
‘Triangle of Sadness’ won the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival
The 2022 Cannes Film Festival was a competitive year for its top prize, the Palme d’Or. Triangle of Sadness managed to take home the prestigious award, and its ambiguous ending led to plenty of other discussions. Some of the other top contenders included Decision to Leave, Broker, Crimes of the Future, Close, EO, Showing Up, and Armageddon Time.
Östlund’s feature film also took home the CST Artist – Technician Prize.
However, critics are split on Triangle of Sadness. Some thought it was too heavy-handed with its satire on the rich with a bloated runtime. Nevertheless, many critics praised the acting and the film’s sense of humor, even if some of the jokes felt repetitive.