Film Review: The Square


What is the purpose of art? Why do we make art and why do we appreciate it? There are plenty of discussions that go into these topics but how about discussing what goes on behind the scenes. Everyone knows that art can be odd and confronting so how must it feel for those backstage who deal with this craziness on a regular basis.


This is what The Square is about. Written and directed by Ruben Ostlund, The Square is a pointed satire at the ridiculousness and drama that revolves around running a museum and the askew characters who open art installations. Ostland being an artist himself, has taken from his personal experiences as well as famous stories to produce a film which is as funny as it is bizarre and uncomfortable. The Square won the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the highest prize awarded at the festival.


Unfolding as a series of unfortunate events, the film follows Christian (Claes Bang) as he manages the eccentricities of modern art as well as issues in his personal life. Including but not limited to, threating a thief by putting a threating letter in the letter boxes of everyone in their building, managing a public interview with an audience member with Tourette’s and dealing with an over-zealous and clingy reporter (Elizabeth Moss). Things go from bad to worse as Christians life begins to spiral with the mounting consequences of his actions.


The Square is a contradiction of a film as it parodies the absurdities of the art world while at the same time presenting it in a typical art house style with obvious messages and interpretations to be taken from the images. The direction of this film is very deliberate. Fixed cameras always held in close up with parts of the event or conversation off screen makes some scenes feel very personal, the tension felt by the characters is palpable on screen.


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