What is contemporary art? Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of a well-regarded art museum in Sweden queries Anne (Elisabeth Moss), a reporter, who has a vague idea. His newest installation is a project entitled "The Square", which is meant to explore trust issues in society, something Christian has problems
with in his own life.
Christian is a divorced father of two adorable little girls, who makes an effort by driving an electric car and supporting worthwhile causes. When his cell phone and wallet are stolen, Christian's angry response and actions force him into a myriad of unfortunate circumstances, all his own doing. And things get really complicated and dicey when Christian fails to reign in the museum's PR firm, and a frightening and outlandish program at a black-tie gala turns into a crisis.
Writer/director Ruben Östlund, whose 2014 film "Force Majeure" was a critics' darling (except for David and me, we did not like it), once again poses existential questions via his stories for his audiences. "The Square" is astutely provocative, unsettling and profoundly disturbing.
The performance artist, Oleg's (Terry Notary), appearance as a man/ape at a formal fundraiser for the museum goes brutally awry, while attendees sit horrified in silence. Östlund, in his unique way, is asking what is our responsibility to fellow humans in peril? Do we have a social responsibility to help others? The outcome of the artist's performance is even more shocking. Is this really how humans react?
"The Square" is definitely not a film suitable for the masses. These questions of social action/inaction are certainly topical given our current political climate, but are Östlund's interpretations too existential? Fascinating stuff --- it will make for many enlightening post-movie discussions.
Opinion: See It Now!