The Square Reviews
...it’s fresh, and thought-provoking, and provocative in the way that few films are. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for The Square. At over two hours and thirty minutes it demands patience. But stick with it and you’ll be rewarded.
You are very likely to come away from this experience embittered and swearing to stay away from everything Swedish except the music of ABBA all your life.
Like his fellow Cannes winners, Thai maestro Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the great Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Östlund is a champion of constructing long scenes that could work just as well as short films. He thrives on silences and discomfort, taking immense pleasure in throwing his characters in awkward situations and watching from a distance as they flail about trying to escape. Which is what Christian does in every scene of the film - from making idiotic attempts to retrieve his stolen phone to confusing even himself whether or not he’s still relevant.
Over the course of 2 hours 30 minutes, ‘The Square’ will either leave you wondering what you witnessed or question the principles you choose to live by. It’s disconcerting, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re up for cinema that isn’t run-of-the-mill, ‘The Square’ is undoubtedly out-of-the-box.
Ruben Östlund's scripting doesn't allow for much integration between events so what you get is a stripped along story-telling that might seem meaningful to some and largely worthless to others. The experience thereof is interesting but not exactly illuminating or heartfelt.
The Square easily justifies its 105-minute runtime, and there’s a lot going on. While I don’t feel like each strand of the story comes together in perfect cohesion, Östlund is in top form with this quite absurd and jaw-dropping film it as entertaining, as it is existential.
The Square is actually the sum of its parts, rather than a seamless whole. Viewers are probably going to pick differing scenes as their favourites. Ostlund arranges these scenes around Christian – a character who constantly looks like he’s about to go off the edge. Claes Bang is fantastic as he faces challenges and weirdness, and he also rocks a dinner jacket.
A pretentious creative fantasy...An atypical, funny and amusing art house film about an art house, specifically a pretentious Stockholm museum devoted to progressive modern art...
Despite the censorship, The Square manages to emerge as a rewarding experience. It’s quite enriching when an artist, in this case Östlund, pushes the boundaries of cinema to unfamiliarise, and even destroy, known concepts, creating a sense of heightened awareness towards them. Be it towards accepted norms of human behaviour, poverty in a posh Scandinavian city or politics of capitalism, it all ultimately forms the bedrock of strong artistic discourse.
Audience Reviews for The Square
Claes Bang is charming in this satirical commentary on the state of freedom of expression and politics in the Swedish art museum scene which depends on shoots of massively appealing sequences but falls flat when you see them as a whole. Director Ruben Ostlund uses the narrative story of a man (Bang) in the upper strata of society who has to brave the world as he doesn't know it. Starting from the loss of his wallet and phone to the uphill task of managing the museum of which he is a director, he fails to use his intelligence or charm and ends up facing the wrath of the merciless collective world. I am not sure what more Ostlund tries to say here but his primary theme of how far freedom of speech can go and who is supposed to cap it is loud and clear throughout The Square. Elizabeth Moss also stars in this sleek little abstract film that has some great music (Justice, for instance) and enjoyable shots of people enjoying themselves. Special nod to whoever designed the sets and the costumes of the characters because now I want to dress like Bang. The sex scene between two characters is one of the most natural thing I have seen all year in film, which is why I should stress that The Square has some extraordinary sequences for you to enjoy, but as a whole it still is an overlong mess. TN.