The Square (CIFF 2017)

The Square is a mess of ideas that may never fully come together as a whole but is nonetheless an enthralling experience. It’s a weird movie, one that’s got so much going on that it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s part satire, part drama, part some-of-the-most-uncomfortable-filmmaking-you’ll-ever-see, and that’s just for starters. The film’s title comes from a piece of modern art featured within it, and I guess that’s kind of fitting. The film is modern art. And it’s wonderful.

At its center is Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of a modern art museum in Sweden. The plot … is all over the place. Sometimes he’s dealing with the museum and trying to figure out a way to promote “the Square” exhibit, while other times he’s trying to get back his belongings, which in the film’s first scene are stolen from him. He’s got a relationship with Anne (Elisabeth Moss), that goes untouched upon for long stretches at a time. He has kids we only find out about midway through. Like I said, it’s got a lot that it tries to balance, and all of these elements rarely all head in the same direction as one coherent whole.

That’s all that keeps The Square from being one of the best films of the year. Otherwise? It’s rock solid. It’s got interesting characters, fantastic acting, a good mix of comedy, thrills, shocks, and drama—and it even has some points to be made about social structure, the way we treat each other, and especially the beggars of the world. And it has a dinner scene you’ll never forget—even if you might want to. The Square is entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and absolutely wonderful.

Conclusion: The Square is a weird movie, but I dug it.

Recommendation: If you’re open to off-kilter projects, The Square is worth your time.

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