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Ruben Ostlund is one of the few directors to have won two Palmes d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Ruben Ostlund does not do half-measures. For the Swedish filmmaker’s breakthrough, 2014′s Force Majeure, he examined the breakdown of a marriage through the prism of an avalanche disaster. In 2017′s The Square, he skewered the art world with acts of shocking violence and, in one memorable 12-minute-long sequence, the destruction of a classy fundraiser by a shirtless man pretending to be an ape.

Now Ostlund is back with his most outré provocation, Triangle of Sadness, a social satire that partly follows a group of wealthy industrialists and social-media influencers vacationing aboard a luxury yacht – and whose centrepiece scene features so much vomit and other bodily fluids that movie theatres would be wise to hand out sickness bags. (The seriously impressive levels of spew didn’t dissuade this past spring’s Cannes Film Festival jury from handing Ostlund the prestigious Palme d’Or award, though, an honour which he also snagged for The Square.)

At the Toronto International Film Festival last month, where Triangle of Sadness made its Canadian premiere ahead of its theatrical release this week, Ostlund sat down with The Globe and Mail to discuss gags both metaphorical and literal.

I want to start off by offering my condolences on the passing of the film’s young star, Charlbi Dean. Promoting the film just a month after her death must be a jarring experience.

Thank you, and it is emotional. We recently went back to Greece, where parts of the film were shot two years ago, and I was reminded of that wonderful period working with Charlbi. It’s sad to share this film without her. I was looking for such a long time for someone to play her character. My wife is a fashion photographer, and she knew this model who just might be right for the role. We flew her to Sweden from L.A. for the audition, and she was so well-prepared. She could play around with a scene every way.

The film opens by examining the fashion industry that Charlbi herself was involved in, but then it expands significantly. I feel there could be an entire movie just about the haute couture world.

It was always meant to be three parts. I was thinking about how hard it is to be surprised when you go to the cinema. I wanted to make a wild, entertaining roller-coaster for adults. Combine the best parts of American cinema while dealing with something that is important. Here, it’s how beauty has become currency.

The film almost operates like a slasher movie – we’re introduced to these wealthy jerks, and we’re now waiting for them to get their comeuppance. To be chopped to pieces by some unstoppable force.

I like to push it, in all senses. The first version of the film was almost four hours long. It wasn’t a matter of taking scenes out, but it was that the scenes were longer and longer – it’s about finding the in and out points. I wanted to go further than the audience expected me to go. And after having shot it and watched it in editing, I’m used to the grossness. The first time I showed the film to a test audience, I thought maybe I did go too far. But I wanted to. A little throw-up is a silly joke. But if you push it further, it becomes something else.

So you’ve hit just the right ratio of vomit to laughs? The marketing surprisingly leans into it – it’s not often you see a movie poster with someone throwing up on it.

It feels okay, because you don’t want to be afraid of scaring people. I like the directness of it. With Force Majeure, the poster is the avalanche. With The Square, it’s the monkey. Here, it’s vomiting. Why not?

There is probably more Marxist ideology being spoken on-screen in this film, by Woody Harrelson’s character, then I’ve seen in a film … in some time. I know your mother was a communist …

Yes, and I think this was my way of revisiting that. My parents became left-wing during the sixties, but then my mother became a dedicated communist and my father went more to the middle. In my house, we always enjoyed having political discussions – it was very loud.

Triangle of Sadness is now playing in Toronto; it opens in Vancouver and Montreal Oct. 14, and expands across Canada Oct. 21

This interview has been condensed and edited