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Art House

The Square (2017)

Duration2h 31m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R,  
Source of storyAn original screenplay – or is it an artwork?
DirectorRuben Östlund
Writers/ScriptRuben Östlund
StarringClaes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.2 by 57,744 people .  Rotten Tomatoes: 85% by 215 reviewers..

Elevator Pitch: Christian, the curator of a Swedish Museum of Modern art is involved in the manufacture? of “The Square” which is an illuminated border in cobblestones forming the shape. Also in the museum there are a number of piles of gravel, and a big pyramid of chairs which has a noisy accompanying sound. We could say, typical modern artworks. Christian has his wallet and phone stolen, and the tracking down of the leads to a bazaar confrontation. He also has sex with a female journalist resulting in a strange confrontation. When the PR for the museum develops a video involving the Square, which goes viral, Christian’s future is in doubt.

Content: There is an extended sex scene, which does not actually involve any nudity. Christian is seen to be robbed in the street and he and his assistant chase about the city in pursuit of the stolen items. We get extended views of the artworks, which are fun (well I think so), particularly when some of the gravel is knocked over by the sweeping machine. There are press conferences and discussions about installations. The journalist is seen with a monkey in her flat. The most alarming scene in the film, a man impersonating a chimpanzee in a formal dinner, eventually resulting in the man/chimp being attacked by the male diners.

A View: I saw this with Spanish dubbing and Spanish subtitles, but I don’t think it mattered, except that due to the improvisation the subtitling was poor. The film received one Oscar nomination and won may awards worldwide and was generally feted by the critics most of whom thought it was a biting satire, but one or two thought it was too clever for its own good. If it is going to be famous for anything it is the monkey performance which was terrifying, but had it been real life, would have resulted in the  museum being sued. Whatever else, it was far too long, but if you have read this revue and still want to see it, best of luck.

Additional info: Terry Notary, who played the belligerent monkey had fulfilled a similar role in Planet of the Apes. 

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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