Triangle of Sadness’ enigmatic Abigail has a vital solution backstory

Long right before Ruben Östlund’s dim comedy Triangle of Sadness debuted at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival — in which it received the prestigious Palme d’Or — it was noticeable who’d wind up as the breakout character. Filipina star Dolly De Leon hardly even reveals up in the film’s initially two functions, each and every broken out with its have title card and its very own unique story. But De Leon’s character Abigail absolutely dominates the film’s third act, when still remaining an enigmatic determine correct up by the film’s last times.

Abigail is strongly reminiscent of Ana de Armas’ character Marta in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, an additional smooth-spoken immigrant operating for potent, wealthy folks who undervalue and overlook her until eventually occasions capture up with all of them. But though their triumphs and journeys are similar, Marta’s backstory and motivations are clearer and additional centered in her movie, though Abigail looks to occur from nowhere. That is incredibly clearly intentional — but De Leon tells Polygon it did not continue to keep her from coming up with her own elaborate explanation of who Abigail is and exactly where her power comes from.

“I definitely had to make a backstory!” De Leon states. “If I’m likely to embrace the thriller each time I do a task, I’m going to be so dropped on established, and it is gonna exhibit. So I wrote a journal, talking about her background and what led her there, what built her the human being she is. That really assisted condition all her actions and justify why she said specified items in the film, or why she behaved in specific means.”

Abigail’s solution record could also aid viewers come to a decision how to interpret the stop of Triangle of Disappointment, which writer-director Östlund (Force Majeure, The Sq.) leaves as a provocation for the viewers.

[Ed. note: Spoilers for Triangle of Sadness follow, including end spoilers after the final header.]

Who is Abigail and what does she do in Triangle of Sadness?

The unnamed yacht captain (Woody Harrelson) in Triangle of Sadness, in full white dress uniform, stands next to a black-clad, smiling guest on the yacht at the Captain’s Dinner

Photograph: Fredrik Wenzel/Plattform Produktion

Östlund’s movie tells 3 linked stories that each individual concentrate primarily on a unique set of figures. In the 1st act, manner types Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) navigate their risky, manipulative marriage. Act 2 moves the motion aboard a luxurious yacht, in which Carl and Yaya have been invited as all-costs-compensated friends since of their influencer status. But they’re minimal people in the tale, which focuses additional on the yacht’s abundant, entitled passengers, the drunken mishandling of the boat by an incompetent captain (Woody Harrelson), and the breakdown of get throughout a violent storm.

In the third act, some of the yacht’s enhance, like Carl and Yaya, conclusion up alongside one another on a distant island where by they have no idea how to endure. Abigail, a cleaner and “toilet manager” from the yacht, emerges as the key to their survival, given that she is familiar with how to capture and clean up fish, construct a fire, and forage for other foods. She rapidly requires ruthless edge of her new electricity, declaring herself captain of the island and forcing the other passengers to obey her. In the method, Östlund tends to make it apparent that the social order individuals so usually take for granted, with people today commanding energy largely owing to their prosperity (or beauty or fame, for Carl and Maya), is a nicely-managed fiction that rapidly unravels in a predicament the place real ability, know-how, and expertise make a difference.

That segment of the tale especially highlights the position of “OFWs,” or Abroad Filipino Personnel, a perfectly-founded class of migrant staff residing and performing outside their household place, and frequently having menial performing-class jobs regardless of their training or previous function knowledge. De Leon suggests OFWs had been a unique concentrate for Östlund in conceiving the movie.

“I think he needed to see the OFWs’ life from the lens of a particular person who is a passenger, an individual from a put of privilege,” she says. “I imagine he wished to hold it that way, for the reason that the emphasis genuinely was the shifting of electric power. He desired the OFWs in the commencing and the second act of the film to be coasting together, practically invisible characters, with no true existence, no weight. And you see how [Abigail] assumes a placement of electrical power, coming from a area of getting invisible and nondescript.”

Exactly where did Abigail come from?

Abigail (Dolly De Leon) stands with her hands on her waist, looking out of patience, with two other passengers from her yacht standing well behind her in Triangle of Sadness

Photograph: NEON

Triangle of Disappointment does not say considerably about Abigail’s origins, but De Leon felt it was vital to give the character a lot more depth in purchase to make her more authentic.

“I really don’t know if all actors do this, but I do it,” she says. “I normally have a character magic formula that only I know. And then I only expose it after the film has been revealed. Though we’re doing the job on it, on established, I would explain to my co-actors [sing-songs] ‘I have a secret. I have a key! I’ll under no circumstances convey to you! I’ll convey to you soon after.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, me far too, I have a secret!’”

Her headcanon about Abigail was even a key from Östlund. De Leon claims he permitted her a whole lot of flexibility with the character, such as creating her a single woman with no children, but that she held a comprehensive journal about Abigail’s existence that was entirely for her personal development.

“She certainly grew up by a lake or the ocean,” De Leon claims. “She lived someplace in Cavite, a province on the edge of Luzon, wherever I come from. I grew up in the city, so the closest I ever received to mother nature was dragonflies and butterflies. She grew up where by her mom would go to a river and do their laundry there, by the managing h2o, and Abigail would engage in with the other kids there, and capture fish and tadpoles. That’s why she received definitely good at fishing, for the reason that she started off early in life.”

De Leon states it is apparent that Abigail was not from a fishing spouse and children, simply because she does not use nets or boats to capture fish, just her bare arms. “I felt that experienced to appear from a further resource, from way back again when she was actually very little. When you’re a youngster and you are participating in make-imagine games, it receives actually ingrained into your process, and you definitely feel it, and turn out to be definitely good at it. That’s what took place to her.”

De Leon specifically wished Abigail to be unattached, with no a single she needed to get back again household to, but that aspect of the character also expected watchful navigation. “The part exactly where she has no youngsters, she has no spouse and children, I had to make certain that was apparent, and what circumstances led to her staying a one girl,” she suggests. “Because that’s just about unheard of in the Philippines. We all have people, we’re all married. If we’re not, there has to be a definitely excellent stable reason.”

Her answer was to fill Abigail’s early lifestyle with tragedy, and causes to distrust her businesses and crave power around them.

“She labored for a very wealthy family members — she begun as a teen, when she was 16 or 17, for the reason that in some cases that’s how early we begin doing the job,” De Leon claims.” “And the son had a romance with her, without the need of the understanding of his dad and mom. She got pregnant, and of training course, she knew she couldn’t retain the child. So she still left the house.”

De Leon characterizes that marriage as “kind of abusive, in a way,” simply because her lover had ability in excess of her and was more mature, it’s possible 19 or so. “To her, it wasn’t abuse — she was truly in love,” she states. “But he did not care for her. He just used her. And when she remaining the household, she acquired a miscarriage, and that is how she lost the child. Right after that, as she grew up, as she matured, she seemed at that expertise in retrospect, and recognized that he took gain of her, and that the person he cherished betrayed her.

“So just after that, she was really bitter about really like, and she felt like a scorned female. She did not ever want to slide in like yet again. That was a aware selection she created. And that is how potent she is, to make a decision like that and adhere to it. That can take a good deal of willpower and power. So that is why she doesn’t have a spouse and children.”

What does Abigail’s story signify for the stop of Triangle of Unhappiness?

Fashion models Yaya (Charlbi Dean) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) lie in bathing suits on white loungers on the deck of a yacht in Triangle of Sadness, with Yaya holding her phone and smiling at something offscreen, and Carl looking perturbed

Photo: Fredrik Wenzel/Plattform Produktion

Triangle of Sadness closes on a expecting minute, with Yaya and Abigail by itself jointly. They’ve just found that what they thought was a deserted, isolated island is basically a spa and vacation resort. As before long as they make get hold of with the other folks on the island, Abigail will go back to currently being a menial worker, and perhaps encounter authorized difficulties in excess of how she addressed her former bosses on the island. So she picks up a rock and sneaks up on Yaya, obviously setting up to murder her and then return to the some others and lie about what they discovered.

It’s unclear whether or not Yaya is wholly oblivious to the threat, but with her back to Abigail, she offers the more mature lady a work as her assistant the moment they return to civilization. It is not the kind of electricity Abigail has been savoring, but it is not murder and lies, either. Abigail hesitates, and the film finishes.

Given De Leon’s elaborate fantasies about Abigail’s past, does she have fantasies about her foreseeable future right after the close of the film as nicely?

“That problem has been asked in excess of and about once again,” De Leon says, “but I by no means get exhausted of answering it, due to the fact it’s truly quite exciting to answer. It definitely relies upon on the working day, on what my point out of thoughts is, on exactly where I am as a individual. Of program when I was filming it, I experienced my very own ending in head. But as soon as you place a character on monitor, they’re immortalized, and their tale can alter based on your interpretation. So it is dependent on the viewer, and it also is dependent on me.”

She suggests she’s viewed the movie a few occasions now, and she’s imagined a unique ending just about every time. She’s also read from enthusiasts of the motion picture who spin out even extra elaborate endings. So even though she claims she’s shared some of her theories in the previous, she’d relatively individuals respond to the concern themselves. Her backstory may possibly enable viewers interpret what Abigail does up coming, supplied in which she arrived from and how she feels about it. It could also make their choice more difficult — Abigail evidently arrives with each a robust sense of moral justice, and a burning hunger for vengeance. Which one particular prevails is up to you.

Both way, De Leon hopes Triangle of Disappointment inspires viewers to “change the way they perceive people who they think are decreased than them, or higher than them.”

“If any one individual on that yacht experienced showed Abigail some measure of kindness, or some personal connection, I assume her arc would have taken a thoroughly distinctive journey, a absolutely unique spike on it,” she claims. “So I hope viewers believe about that, about introducing a small particular touch, or some additional kindness to people that they experience. It is not even workers, it’s just being sort in standard, to everyone. Why do we have to be type to people today in ability only? I feel kindness ought to arrive at every human currently being, for the reason that it ought to be our nature to be kind to every single other, and not to be evil or violent.”

Triangle of Unhappiness debuted in U.S. theaters on Oct. 7 and is at present rolling out around the world.

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