The Square


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The Square
"While satirically entertaining in places it has too many threads competing for attention and ultimately runs out of steam."

Swedish director Ruben Östlund proved himself adept at tackling society’s ills and foibles with his previous film Force Majeure, which became an international hit.

He returns to similar territory with The Square which examines political correctness, artistic liberty and freedom of speech, social concerns as well as big business and politics, all shot through with a distinctly Scandinavian perspective.

While satirically entertaining in places it has too many threads competing for attention and ultimately runs out of steam.

Claes Bang from the TV series The Bridge plays liberal art gallery curator Christian, who exudes humanitarian values and tolerance. One of his projects is a space called The Square in which people are required to abide by the rules of certain ideals.

When he leaps in near the square to protect a woman who is being threatened by a persistent individual, he discovers that his wallet and mobile phone have been stolen. He believes the offender may live in a particular apartment block, where he posts letters requesting the return of his property. Eventually they are mysteriously returned to him but a young boy takes him to task over the accusations.

Elisabeth Moss appears as an American journalist who interviews him, rather badly, and then beds him for an energetic one-night stand. Inexplicably, she appears to have a chimpanzee as a flat mate.

Östlund gives no explanations about such occurrences, leaving the viewer to fill the gap as they see fit. So far, so bemused ...

Another set piece is a museum dinner for wealthy patrons where the warm-up act consists of a deranged monkey-like man (Terry Notary) leaping on the tables to cajole and eventually threaten the diners. What starts off as being mildly amusing quickly overstays its welcome.

Although there are plenty of compensations, Östlund allows many sequences to ramble on for far too long. The narrative unfolds in both Swedish and English. With an inflated tuning time of more than two hours some judicious pruning would enhance the film’s broader chances.

Reviewed on: 20 May 2017
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An art exhibit invites passers by to altruism, but things don't go as planned for its curator.
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Director: Ruben Östlund

Writer: Ruben Östlund

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary, Linda Anborg, Claes Bang, Annica Liljeblad, Christopher Læssø, Emelie Beckius, Sarah Giercksky, Jan Lindwall, Marina Schiptjenko, John Nordling, Denise Wessman, Lilianne Mardon, Peter Diaz

Year: 2017

Runtime: 142 minutes

Country: Sweden, Germany, France, Denmark

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