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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
1,026 ( 341)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 31 wins & 37 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

Terry Notary portrays the ape-man "Oleg" in the film. The Russian artist Oleg Kulik was invited to the international group exhibition "Interpol" at Färgfabriken, Stockholm, Sweden. At the opening, the vernissage, Kulik performed like a dog. He glittered, jumped up, rolled and even bit the VIP crowd in their legs. Kulik said he acted as a representative of the browbeaten Russian people, who now attacked and bit back. The crowd became so scared and enraged that they called for the police. In "The Square" there is a similar, charged and offensive scene, but here the performance artist acts like an ape. 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

Featured in The Oscars (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Party at the Castle
Performed by Claes Bang
See more »

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User Reviews

 
a sharp-tongued, rapier-like caricature aiming at our society
18 November 2017 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

2017's Palme d'or winner, Swedish absurdist Ruben Östlund's social satire taps into the life of Christian (Bang), the curator of an art museum in Stockholm, which will descend into a tailspin after his wallet and smartphone is stolen en route to work one day by a confidence trick.

A significant step-up from his uppity marital disintegration inspection FORCE MAJEURE (2014), In THE SQUARE, Östlund has learned how to let his hair down with more brio and conceal moral condescendence among his sarcastic skits, which makes for a piquant contemporary comedy doesn't flinch from touching many a raw nerve among audience, anyway, the joke is on all of us because there are something undeniably unsavory residing within every and each human soul, we can laugh about it, but more often than not, a twinge of self-awareness synchronously pulsates.

"The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations." it is a motto from the museum's latest exhibition, whose titular installation supersedes an august bronze statue in the opening (with droll maladroitness setting the keynote of the film), but can its underlying altruism transcend from artistic cant into something concrete in reality? Christian's story will give us a wry answer.

A seemingly harmless plan (although Christian must deign to actualize it) to retrieve his stolen phone actually works, but before Christian's euphoria subsides, it boomerangs. It only takes a sincere apologize and some explanation to mend the fences, which eventually deteriorates into uncanny paranoia and insidious physical affliction towards a minor is implied, in-congruent with the rest of the film's farcical tenor, but it tests the boundary of how far THE SQUARE is willing to push the buttons, and Östlund shows judicious concerns about what is shown on the screen in slightly gnawing execution, and no easy recompense is dished up in the end.

Elsewhere, jokes are in full swing, starting from the opening interview of Christian from an American journalist Anne (Moss) about the gobbledygook on the museum's internet, to a faux pas caused by a Tourette's syndrome patient, and the ludicrous tug-of-war in Anne and Christian's one-night-stand, apparently with a chimpanzee in the next room, until the dreadful irony in our click-bait media publicity with controversial, eyeball-grabbing gimmick, and a painful realization that it often works. However, the central piece, of course belongs to the hyped (which is on the film's main poster) performance art of an ape-man radically terrorizing the entire guests of a banquet to a bitter end, motion-capture stuntman Terry Notary totally owns the one-off opportunity in the central stage to redefine primate mimicking and debunk how similarly animalistic we are underneath all the finery exterior, notwithstanding the whole act partakes of a well- orchestrated trick for the sake of scandalization.

A late-bloomer Claes Bang is perfectly apt in inhabiting Christian's towering figure, dapper mien and jaunty disposition, oozing disarming charisma which veils his self-seeking nature to a degree we even tend to give excuses to him involuntarily (that boy is tenacious and annoying, how on earth his staff could upload that inappropriate video onto their public website without his imprimatur?), and in the gender politics spar with a gutsy Elisabeth Moss (although her part is shamefully peripheral, and her defense of "it takes two to tango" accusation is too feeble to register), which fortuitously hits the hot-button with the current power-abuse cleansing pandemic.

Forsaking a traditional score in favor of a cappella passages to heave the story's emotional shift, THE SQUARE is a sharp-tongued, rapier-like caricature aiming at a society characterized by class- discrepancy (beggars galore in one of the richest country in the world is a disheartening antimony), patriarchy and apathy, redolent of a visceral tang of self-reflexive mockery with a knowing wink, that is the power of THE SQUARE.


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