Plot: Christian (Claes Bang) is the curator of a cutting edge modern art museum, a place where the art of the moment is celebrated and showcased. The newest exhibit at the museum is called The Square, which is a simple concept, but as Christian and his marketing team discover, one that is difficult to promote. The Square is supposed to be a place to trust, a space where only good can happen, but how to market the exhibit is proving to be a Herculean task. Meanwhile, Christian discovers he was robbed during an encounter on the street and prodded by one of his workers, he writes up a bold letter and puts copies into every mail slot in the apartment building where his phone’s GPS signal is located. He also interacts with an American reporter, his two rambunctious children, and the various issues that arise at the museum. But when his letter paints a young boy as a thief, he takes offense and demands an apology from Christian, which of course, Christian ignores. As all of these forces come together as The Square is about to open, can Christian balance of his pending issues?
Entertainment Value: A captivating look at art, human nature, and moral courage, The Square is a dynamic, powerful movie. The nature of the movie isn’t going to appeal to a wide audience, as it takes a deliberate, incremental approach and piles on disruptions, distractions, and odd moments, but for those who prefer a more creative vision of film, this movie nails all the right notes. The film’s marketing centers on a gala dinner that is invaded by a man behaving like a primal animal, which is indeed an unforgettable scene, but the movie is by no means a one hit wonder. The Square is filled with unique, dynamic moments both epic and subtle, which make even mundane conversations seem oddly interesting. So while the pace can be slow and the movie leans on dialogue, it never feels dull or drawn out in the least. While the movie deals with a lot of social and intellectual topics, it never comes off as pretentious and in truth, is often awkward and hilarious in how it views those issues. Claes Bang is remarkable as Christian, while Elisabeth Moss brings great awkward energy to her scenes and of course, Terry Notary steals the entire movie as Oleg, the monkey man. I was riveted by The Square, I found it to be a creative, scathingly hilarious experience with both big set piece moments and a wealth of subtle humor. I simply cannot recommend it enough, anyone who appreciates arthouse or creative cinema shouldn’t miss this one.
A vigorous cowgirl session features Moss’ bouncing breasts, but it is a brief scene and the lone nakedness on showcase. No blood. There is some violence, but it never reaches the bloodshed level of conflict. The monkey man scene is intense and the movie uses a lot of confrontation and disruption, but it never descends into all out violence. The writing here is brilliant in my opinion, with almost every interaction and conversation being interesting or outlandish. The exposition is even handled with great humor, so no material is just filler, or at least it feels that way to me. I love drama and dysfunction, so The Square was like a vision from heaven, as it is loaded with confrontations, conflict, and disruptions, not to mention tons of awkward energy coursing through the entire movie. The movie is often hilarious and balances the intellectual and the absurd quite well, which is no simple task. The post sex encounter between Christian and Anne is a masterwork, but it is just one of numerous memorable, dynamic scenes. On the scale of craziness, The Square is a wild ride that rides that line between genius and absurdity with immense skill. The characters feel realistic and grounded, while also driven to behave in bold, colorful ways and that leads to so much disruption and confrontation, which I loved. A few scenes are just off the charts in terms of impact and presence, with the monkey man as the apex of escalation. Perhaps not off the rails kind of crazy, but The Square is creative and unrelenting in its own ways, which prove to be worth a nice chunk of insanity points.
Overall Insanity: 8/10