Writer-director Ruben Östlund takes us through the provocative journey of prestige art director Christian (Claes Bang), who’s in the midst of setting up a new think piece at his local museum. This exhibit is called, as you may have guessed, The Square, and it delves into our human connections in ways not everyone might necessarily be comfortable with. The exhibit stirs up controversy, and this leads Christian down both a professional and personal crisis where our separation as human beings takes the forefront as he’s forced to look at the bigger pictures of life.
The central messages are important, no doubt, but they’re far from subtle. Östlund’s script, while effective, does have a tendency to beat you over the head with what he’s trying to say, in the third act especially. He goes from subtle storytelling with subliminal messaging to blatantly stating what he’s trying to get across, and it doesn’t always flow as naturally as he might like. His themes are certainly relevant. He delves into topics that, while certainly thought about, aren’t given as much attention as other equally important social issues. A lot of his execution is genius and provoking; a lot of it throws it right in your face.
This entire film, however, will no-doubt be known for its sequence in which a character called Oleg (Terry Notary), who spends his time imitating a monkey for an exhibit, is let loose at a prestigious dinner party. When it begins, you’re never sure if what you’re watching is serious or comedic, and what unfolds evokes the strongest of reactions. This whole film is a testament to its craft. It’ll stir a reaction within you, no doubt, and it’s thanks to the genius of the filmmaking. Some of these shots are absolute all-timers, most of the scenes the same. For lovers of cinema, The Square is for you.
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