There’s no denying it won’t resonate with many of the population, but much of The Square is about rejecting popular ideologies anyway
A two and a half hour Swedish/English black comedy about an art museum, critiquing both the state of modern art and modern society may not be everyone’s jam sandwich, but there is a strange and alluring nature to the film that could drag anyone into its powerful clutches.
The plot focuses on Christian (Claes Bang) a passive curator of a modern art museum in Stockholm, whose life drops into a spiral when he green lights a marketing campaign he hadn’t even seen.
As The Square progresses through its slow but intuitive motions, it becomes clear how socially relevant the film is. Using commonplace issues such as homelessness, the internet and family distractions in combination with lead Christian’s self-absorbed nature and his position at the museum, in which he is thoroughly out of his depth, a very broad but very astute take on society becomes quite apparent.
The best way to view an issue is though someone else’s eyes, and not only does director Ruben Östlund show us his views forthrightly, but he offers Christian’s take on things, however incompetent he is. Tying this together with the use of art and performance, often taking big comedic punches at the modern-art world, The Square becomes the incredible social commentary that it was intended to be.
It’s immense run time doesn’t really come into question when it’s followed unconditionally. Total immersion into The Square allows for its key moments to hit with their full force, with the particular scene featured in the film’s poster easily being the most shocking and intimidating.
This changing of styles and pace is something that The Square absolutely relies on, as it broadcasts the fluctuating life Christian seems to be living, helpless against what is happening to him, however much he feels he is in control.
Bang deserves great credit for realising his character in full, showing many fears modern society experiences as commonplace, but are often to reserved to either speak up about or admit to themselves. It’s a fascinating picture to experience, and an even more interesting one to analyse post-viewing. There’s no denying it won’t resonate with many of the population, but much of The Square is about rejecting popular ideologies anyway.