The Square – Review

Terry Notary as Oleg in The Square – Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

If you’re in the mood for weird but not too weird, then search no more – The Square hits a nice balance between odd and entertaining.

Winning the Palme d’Or and cementing director Ruben Östlund as a talent; The Square is a film about art, as it literally takes place in an art museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

This foreign film has so much going on that it really is difficult to describe with words, it bounces from scene to scene that often represent different meanings to the lead character; some scenes reflect the lead characters mistakes, other scenes are added purely for comedic and artistic purposes. While the pacing may be up and down depending on each individuals temperament, it’s the type of film that didn’t necessarily need a structure to it, as much of it was “arty”, I felt it was designed to offer up a different flavour of filmmaking. I can certainly appreciate the messages that director Ruben Östlund was advertising.

I enjoyed most of the characters in the film, including the lead actor Clas Bang – he offers an intimate performance that helps make the entire story digestible, he’s a soft man with a playboy disposition, and not a lot of guts. Most of the supporting actors including Elizabeth Moss are adequate; though we get a staggeringly peculiar performance from actor Terry Notary as he plays a disturbingly accurate depiction of an ape, yes you heard that correctly. Many of the small roles are scattered evenly and its hard to pick who the main supporting actors really are, but this film is ultimately carried by Clas Bang and his authentic persona.

One of this films strongest assets was its inventive camera-work through its cinematography; many of the shots offered depth and perspective, allowing the audience to absorb and contemplate what the film was attempting to say. Much of the production design is clean as it takes place in expensive art galleries and apartments, with only a few exceptions. The music offered its own obscure theme that played at odd times during cinematic moments, it was interesting music but it’s certainly not something I would listen to in my spare time.

The Square is as peculiar as an art film about art can get, it has hints of comedy similar to Toni Erdmann (2017), but feels much more like its own film than anything else. This is really a film you have to see to gain perspective on what I describe. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s certainly a refreshing and thought-provoking film. While it’s tricky at first to get a grasp on what this film means at all; its unorthodox storytelling keeps you entertained right till the very end.

8/10

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