Triangle Of Sadness Director Ruben Ostlund Is Eager For More People To Walk Out Of His Next Movie

When you buy a ticket for a Ruben Östlund film, you'd better be ready to squirm. At minimum. Depending on your physical and mental fortitude, you might want to reserve an aisle seat. Because once Östlund cranks up one of his excruciating set pieces, like the climactic dinner in "The Square" or the nightmarish symphony of bodily fluids in "Triangle of Sadness," you might find yourself bolting for the exit.

Östlund's movies offer unsubtle, occasionally overbearing commentary on our broken society. Sometimes they feel like endurance tests designed for the sole amusement of the filmmaker. In this regard, Ôstlund has much in common with Gaspar Noé, whose "Irreversible" caused physical upset in viewers by deploying a low-frequency sound used by police for riot control. If you're wondering why anyone in their right mind would willingly subject themselves to such films, sometimes the invigorating technique and totality of the director's vision is worth a little queasiness.

And sometimes you just want to be the person who can say you made it to the end of "2 Girls, 1 Cup." If so, Östlund is your man, and it sounds like he's got a corker of a follow-up to "Triangle of Sadness" on the way.

Extreme tedium at 30,000 Feet

On a recent episode of Variety's Awards Circuit Podcast, Östlund told Janelle Riley his next feature, "The Entertainment System Is Down," will take place on a long-haul plane trip where passengers are horrified to discover that their options for in-flight distraction have entirely disappeared. Sure, people have their phones and laptops and tablets, but those batteries only last so long. Unless you're one of those freaks who reads physical media, all you've got is yourself and your travel companions. Which circle of Dante's Hell is this again?

Östlund gave Riley a taste of what he's up to by describing a scene where a bored young boy wants to borrow his older brother's iPad. He's told by a parent that he has to wait five minutes, which, for a child, is an eternity. Per Östlund:

"[I] want to challenge the audience. You stay with the kid in real time. And he's looking in the catalog, putting it back and the restlessness is coming. So he asks his mother, 'How much do we have left?' And she says, 'Well, now it's four minutes and 45 seconds, you have to calm down.'"

If Östlund successfully realizes his vision of profound boredom (exacerbated by the catastrophic setting), he hopes to set a Cannes Film Festival record for walkouts. "I think it's going to be more provocative than any violent, any disturbing content," he said. "Because to be left alone with your thoughts and challenging the audience to do the same thing, then it's going to be very interesting."

As a claustrophobe with an extreme fear of flying, this sounds like a recipe for irrevocable trauma. So why am I so giddy with anticipation to see it?