Friday, December 1, 2017

The Square

I'll be honest, I don't know exactly what to make of The Square. It's hard to create a satire poking fun at pretentiousness when your film is at least as pretentious as as the subject of your mockery. Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund's film certainly provides its share of moments satirizing modern art, middling celebrities, what wealthy donors of the arts really care about, and marketers. However, the film is over-brimming with subplots involving a threatening letter, a mugging, an angry child, a crazy one-night stand (Elisabeth Moss), and a marketing plan so ridiculous it's impossible to take it seriously.

Claes Bang stars as the curator and public face of a museum in Stockholm about to unveil their newest addition (which gives the film its name). The wistful, if hopelessly naive, piece of art is a square in which the artist believes that whoever enters leaves all negativity behind and will receive whatever help they need from those that pass by. As concepts go it's no more or less ridiculous than an artist (Terry Notary) jumping around like an ape and nearly sexually-violating a young woman during a dinner for wealthy donors.

With a meandering 142-minute running time, The Square is desperately in need of a tighter script and extensive editing. While I can't recommend the film, it's just weird enough for me also to not be able to completely dismiss it. That said, if you do decide to give it a chance, I'd hold off until home video where your fast-forward button could prove very beneficial.

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