Title – The Square (2017)
Director – Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure)
Cast – Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Terry Notary, Dominic West
Plot – Stockholm art gallery curator Christian (Bang) finds his life is upturned in the lead up to a new exhibition known as The Square.
“The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations”
Review by Eddie on 15/08/2018
Winning last year’s Canne’s Film Festival coveted Palme d’Or prize and Oscar and Golden Globe nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s awards season, Ruben Östlund’s Swedish set The Square certainly comes to home release with some prestige attached to it but this bum-numbing epic that acts as a darkly humorous expose of modern art culture and more broadly an examination of humankind in general, is the type of film that will split viewers down the middle in regards to love and hate.
Following on from his critically acclaimed Force Majeure from 2014, Östlund continues on with his slowly paced and methodical way of story-telling as we here follow Claes Bang’s art gallery curator Christian through what feels like a collection of mini-films within the larger whole as the all of a sudden under duress big-shot finds his life hitting a few roadblocks in the lead up to his gallery’s opening of an exhibition known as The Square.
It’s a seemingly simplistic set-up but Östlund’s execution is anything but, as Christian’s journey entails awkward romantic encounters with Elizabeth Moss’s American Anne, a crayon carrying chimp, an extremely abnormal dinner function, an angry child and a viral video that is a catalyst to much of Christian’s woes.
These occurrences all add up to a whole that combines to create an almost unnerving atmosphere and tone but they don’t gel to create a cohesive narrative that feels all that apparent and while many will find messages and themes that are possibly there and possibly not there, it feels like The Square squanders some chances to be a genuinely effective dark comedy/expose as it gets lost in an abundance of over-long and over-wrought scenes that needed a much tighter edit.
One aspect of the film that can’t be faulted however is Östlund’s cast commitment to the cause with everyone giving it their all, with Bang and Moss in particular impressing in their roles, while the films few definitively laugh out loud scenes such as disrupted Q and A and the aforementioned dinner feel like scenes out of a much more well-rounded and engaging film.
Final Say –
An over-long and overall bloated arthouse offering, The Square has some nice ideas and potentially relevant messages but it’s hard for them too shine through when the film around them is such a hard slog to endure.
2 viral videos out of 5