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Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Square (2017)

Winner of the Palm D'Or at Cannes and a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, The Square is a shaggy-dog story that seems to be about the inscrutability of modern art, and how it tries to comment about the human condition but it is misunderstood by the masses.

The film centers around Claes Bang as a museum curator. The museum has just installed a new exhibit, which is nothing more than setting aside a square in the courtyard, which is representative of a "sanctuary." The museum has hired a marketing team to get people excited about it, and they end up making a video that offends almost everyone.

Meanwhile, Bang has been pickpocketed and, heeding an idea from his co-worker, tracks his phone to an apartment building in the bad part of town. He puts a flier in every tenant's mailbox, saying he knows they have his stuff. He gets it back, but also awakens the rage of a boy who wonders why he has been accused of being a thief.

Directed and written by Ruben Ostland, The Square tackles the themes of income disparity and how we treat each other through the prism of modern art. He has some fun with art. such as featuring an installation of large piles of gravel (a custodian cleans up one of the piles, and Bang scrambles to make it look like it did). The centerpiece of the film, and one that is featured on the poster, is a dinner for donors with an appearance by an actor who specializes in impersonating chimps. He takes it a bit far, though.

I found the film intermittently funny and Bang does well as a man who is under siege. But it's very long, and scenes involving Elisabeth Moss as an American reporter who turns into Fatal Attraction after having a one-night stand with Bang or completely superfluous. Except for her having a pet chimp, the scenes add nothing to the film and could have been cut.

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