The Square is for the truly eclectic, says Rashid Irani
The tale of an obsessive curator quickly becomes a satire on artists, PR poseurs and culture vultures, but just as quickly loses its bite.Updated: Mar 15, 2018 14:11 IST
- Direction: Ruben Ostlund
- Actors: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss
- Rating: 3.5 / 5
Winner of the top prize at Cannes in 2017, this film began as an art installation designed by its Swedish director Ruben Ostlund for a local design museum.
Over the past couple of years, it has morphed into his fourth feature. The film centres on the chief curator of a prestigious art gallery in Stockholm.
Its newest exhibit is a square of lighted tiles, on display in the courtyard, and the self-centred liberal protagonist (Danish actor Claes Bang, impressive) becomes determined to make visitors aware of its message on social responsibility.
His lofty ideals are put to the test when his cellphone and wallet are stolen by streetside scamsters. Now preoccupied with retrieving his possessions, he absentmindedly greenlights a controversial promotional campaign that is met with public indignation.
As the episodic narrative unfolds, the satire on artists, PR poseurs, benefactors and culture vultures begins to lose its bite. The outcome is emotionally uninvolving.
That said, there is a truly savage sequence involving a performance artist (Terry Notary) who goes ape at a fundraising gala. Elizabeth Moss as an American art correspondent is impactful; as is the background music score.
The Square is recommended viewing but only for the truly eclectic.