Verdict: A well-made comedy with a relevant message.
It won the Palme D’Or at Cannes Film Festival, but The Square was hardly the most hyped film at the Oscars this year. A Swedish comedy-drama by Ruben Östlund, it stars Danish actor Claes Bang in the lead role, while Emmy winner Elizabeth Moss and Golden Globe nominee Dominic West play smaller parts. The film was received well internationally and was even screened at the Mumbai Film Festival last year. What makes The Square special is that it is both relevant and highly entertaining at the same time. A movie based on art may not be to everyone’s liking, but The Square leaves no room for boredom.
What's The Square About:
After the abolition of monarchy in Sweden, the Stockholm Palace is converted into an art museum. Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of the museum, is all set to present his new installation piece, called The Square. It is practically a square on the ground, which symbolizes safety or a place where you can be heard and protected. Meanwhile, Christian’s phone is stolen, leading to an absurd goose chase landing him in even more trouble. Anne (Elizabeth Moss), a journalist Christian who he had a fling with, is also on his tail. Christian is trying to find the balance between his many issues, but it all ends up becoming a colossal mess. The film also explores many other themes reflecting modern age such as the demise of humanity, the wide economic gap, complacency to world issues, and the egocentricity of the rich.
To begin with, The Square features brilliant performances from each of its cast members. Claes Bang is clearly the star of the movie. While the narrative makes the first-world problems of the rich white man seem too real to be taken seriously, we can't help but feel sorry for this troubled character. It is also refreshing to see Elizabeth Moss in a new colorful role, as compared to the gloomy one she plays in the award-winning TV show, The Handmaid's Tale. Dominic West makes an impact but is limited only to a few scenes.
The Square is basically an absurd comedy. Nevertheless, it strikes the perfect balance between delivering a message, creating a visually beautiful film, and keeping the audience engaged. Movie buffs will love the way the story progresses with random bursts of perfectly timed shots. Certain scenes do stand out in terms of narrative and cinematography but it’s hard to pick the best. Even the comedy-loving audience will find plenty to enjoy in the film, which makes you laugh out loud with its dry, satirical humor. In the end, the movie does its primal job of entertainment but also leaves the audience with many introspective questions.
What Could've Been Better:
Many devices have been used in the film, which do not add much to the narrative, rather make it look a little cluttered and disconnected. But this does not take away from the constant entertainment this movie provides.
Why You Should Watch:
Focus on what the film tries to convey and you will see a portrayal of modern society, unlike anything a film has done before. It’s jarring, yes, even a tad flashy (it’s an art museum, after all), but the underlying layers of the story keep playing in your mind long after you’re out of the theatres.