Already highly noticed with Snow Therapy, his previous film, Ruben Östlund hit a big shot with The Square, a social satire as funny as terrifying able to shake its viewer.
He was forty-three years old, is Swedish and starts to become accustomed to the Cannes film Festival. This from his second film, Happy Sweden (un Certain Regard, 2008), and then with the Play (director’s Fortnight, 2011) and, finally, Snow Therapy (Jury Prize, un Certain Regard, 2014). With the latter, he delivered a reflection on the family and the place of man (but also women and children). For its fourth venue, this time in official competition, with The Square, he delivers a social satire range, again by many reflections of human.
Any part of a young girl screaming for help in the street and going to take refuge behind two strangers, asking them to intervene in the face of a man who wants to kill her. Among the two men, Christian, director of a gallery of art. first paralyzed by what happens under his eyes, he finally finds the impetus to intervene and, in the end, not much… For his little punishment, he would appreciate greatly for his act of civic pride. The situation is comical, but reveals as the individualism of human nature. Or how the simple act of helping others seems like a mountain to climb. Ruben Östlund plays with the contrast between the ideologies of his character – which roughly corresponds to the one of the future works of his gallery, an installation on which is written : “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and benevolence. Within it, we have all the same rights and the same duties” – and his actions in daily life. Because, like so many, Christian is first of all concerned about his little person and his own comfort, and he, too, has the habit of lowering the head in front of the poor. The Square obviously plays irony and has the intelligence to pass on his message through laughter, during a time.
The Square combines with elegance the ruptures of tone, as funny as scary. “
In effect, adopting a style that may remind him of the excellent Toni Erdmann (in his way of playing on the length), Ruben Östlund mania with elegance bursts of tone. First comic, and frankly hilarious, while leaving a glimpse of a social class unpleasant, it manages to switch in the last third in a tragic fierce. Its stated goal is to establish a small fire in the contemporary society. In terms of staging, the filmmaker focuses on a precise composition of shots, where the detail or visual noise is important in a chilling. A real control of the environment, allowing as much of the situation comedy that sequence overwhelming. Because very often, the laughter accompany the pathetic. A sex scene between two partners well feel uncomfortable, or that sequence where, at a dinner party, an artist has created an “artistic performance” by acting like a gorilla. Pitching the bourgeois world unable to react to the violence (up to a certain point), Ruben Östlund poses also the question of art and what defines a work as art – the example at the beginning of the film bag placed in a gallery, responding to the performance art cited previously. Sometimes harsh and need time to digest these 2h20 (all the same !), The Square fascinates, entertains, scares, sometimes, but mostly tends to the reflection on the self and the world in causing a form of chaos. A proposal which necessarily divides, but has at least the gift to react.
Review published on the 20th may 2017 at the screening at the Cannes film Festival
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• Achievement : Ruben Östlund
• Screenplay : Ruben Östlund
• Main actors : Dominic West, Elizabeth Moss, Terry Notary
• Release Date : 18 October 2017
• Duration : 2h22min