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The Square (2017)

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A prestigious Stockholm museum's chief art curator finds himself in times of both professional and personal crisis as he attempts to set up a controversial new exhibit.

Director:

Ruben Östlund

Writer:

Ruben Östlund
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Popularity
1,672 ( 9)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 33 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Claes Bang ... Christian
Elisabeth Moss ... Anne
Dominic West ... Julian
Terry Notary ... Oleg
Christopher Læssø Christopher Læssø ... Michael
Lise Stephenson Engström Lise Stephenson Engström ... Daughter
Lilianne Mardon Lilianne Mardon ... Daughter
Marina Schiptjenko Marina Schiptjenko ... Elna
Annica Liljeblad ... Sonja
Elijandro Edouard Elijandro Edouard ... Boy with Letter
Daniel Hallberg Daniel Hallberg ... PR Guy
Martin Sööder Martin Sööder ... PR Guy
John Nordling John Nordling ... Account Manager
Maja Gödicke Maja Gödicke
Nicki Dar Nicki Dar
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Storyline

Christian is the respected curator of a contemporary art museum, a divorced but devoted father of two who drives an electric car and supports good causes. His next show is "The Square", an installation which invites passersby to altruism, reminding them of their role as responsible fellow human beings. But sometimes, it is difficult to live up to your own ideals: Christian's foolish response to the theft of his phone drags him into shameful situations. Meanwhile, the museum's PR agency has created an unexpected campaign for "The Square". The response is overblown and sends Christian, as well as the museum, into an existential crisis.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some strong sexual content, and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Sweden | Germany | France | Denmark

Language:

English | Swedish | Danish

Release Date:

25 August 2017 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Квадрат See more »

Filming Locations:

Gothenburg, Sweden See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$74,233, 29 October 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,502,347, 22 March 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Östlund said it was challenging for Moss and West to adapt to Swedish direction, but they eventually adjusted. See more »

Goofs

In the closing titles of "The Girl With A Kitten" clip, the Hebrew version is wrong: the English noun "square" appears in Hebrew as "an open space in a city" rather than "rectangle with all sides equal"). See more »

Quotes

Christian: If you place an object in a museum does that make this object a piece of art?
See more »

Connections

Spin-off The Beautiful Escape (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Run Amok
Performed by Amok
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User Reviews

One of the great unconventional films of 2017
17 March 2018 | by rblenheimSee all my reviews

Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, "The Square" is a Swedish satirical drama about a curator of a Stockholm art museum who gets into controversial and bizarre happenstances over the promotion of a new art piece called The Square that boasts itself as some sort of sanctuary representing trust and equality. Directed by the idiosyncratic Ruben Östlund (who gave us "Force Majeure" in 2014), this time he pulls out all the stops to produce an unconventional, disturbing, even rebellious episodic homage to human foibles and the chaos of existence, almost as if Bunuel had made "La Dolce Vita".

Denigrated for its inconsistency and lack of cohesiveness, it actually should be praised for those very qualities as bringing together its incongruous parts somewhat serves as its raison d'être as well as its charm. Episodes are built around comical if disturbing events such as the curator's losing his cell phone and his subsequent attempt to retrieve it that balloons into a huge chaotic melee with racist and class-centered overtones. Others center on a deliberately uncomfortable sex scene with a peevish, vengeful publicist (played by Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss) who cohabits with a chimpanzee in her apartment; the art exhibit's advertising agency's promotion which draws the ire of religious organizations and turns into a nightmare; a hilariously embarrassing scene of a man with Tourette's syndrome arbitrarily interrupting an academic lecture; and - most outlandish of all - the culminating sequence in which an American actor imitating an ape totally decimates a formal banquet with lewd behavior, a scene that employed 300 extras and builds to a chaos reminiscent of Nathanael West's Day of the Locust.

A biting example of audacious cinema, its only wrong note is the scene near the end when the curator records a video apology on his smart phone expressing some interpretation (better to leave possible meanings unstated), but those who go with the film, experiencing its various sequences without looking for meaning, will find a marvelously entertaining experience that has few forerunners in cinema history beyond the esoteric absurdist films of fellow Swede Roy Andersson (e.g., his 2000 satire "Songs from the Second Floor") and modernist works by Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier. One of the most original and brilliant films of 2017, but one that, I must admit, won't be everyone's cup of tea.


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