Movie Review – The Square

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Movie Review – The Square

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ruben Ostlund

Starring: Claes Bang

Year: 2017

I have never seen a film quite like The Square, and perhaps that feeling is bolstered by how little I was prepared for it.  I knew it was a talked-about foreign film, I heard Elizabeth Moss’s name, and I saw that it was 140 minutes long, and so I guess I made a bunch of assumptions that held me back from making it a priority on my list.  But what I didn’t know turned out to be so much more important.  I didn’t know that this was Ostlund’s next feature after the excellent Force Majeure, I didn’t know that Moss and every other actor were merely supporting, and I didn’t know that the story would be the exact level of bonkers that I’ve been enjoying all year, from Mother! to Sacred Deer, another in a delightful trend of wacky movies that make remarkable points through their pure, enriched intensity.

Christian, the curator of a Swedish contemporary art museum, is coming face to face with decisions of character and of direction that will completely alter his personality and his path.  A controversial new exhibit is coming to the museum, the Square, a place of empathy and helpfulness by advertisement, but also a stunning juxtaposition to the world outside its small borders.  This exhibit acts as a catalyst, but the events in Christian’s personal life reflect the battle going on within each of us.  His wallet is stolen; how will he react.  He sleeps with a journalist; how will he treat her.  He gives to a beggar; how far will he go.  The bizarre events of the film are as unpredictable as they are hilarious, but they have a darker side as well, one that we typically don’t choose to see.

This is one of those movies that the more I think about the more I like, that I want to revisit again to enjoy, but that I also want others to see so I can tell if I’ve gone insane or if it actually is that good.  I’m relieved that it might be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar; maybe I’m not that original after all, maybe everyone recognizes that The Square may be tremendously weird but that it is also simply tremendous.  Partly in Swedish, partly in English, it’s a roller coaster ride of physical sensations and existential musings, an uncomfortable plot that’s funny because it’s true.  Bang plays Christian to perfection, other characters swirling around him as he sinks deeper into the whirlpool of his conscience, and in the end you completely understand what he just went through because you went through it right alongside him.  I’ll be watching this again soon, and I recommend that you pop it in as well, for although it most definitely isn’t for everyone, it’s an experience that I have to hope that you’ll enjoy.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆