Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Square: An “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

By José Alberto Hermosillo

“The Square”
 is brilliant, intellectually, and emotionally entertaining.

This sophisticated and well-told story centers on the Stockholm museum’s director and curator, Christian (Claes Bang), who falls elegantly into a personal and professional catastrophe through a new and provocative exhibit.
Pretending to be a role model, a good father, and a fantastic lover, he thinks he can take any woman to bed. In this case, an American reporter (Elisabeth Moss) covers the story of the museum’s new opening. After a few drinks, the reporter and the director have one of the funniest after-sex scenes ever.
“The Square” is a beautiful satire placing humans in implausible situations blown out of proportion. As Christian says, “We, as a museum, mustn’t be afraid to push boundaries.”
Actor Claes Bang as Christian. COPYRIGHT 2017
The humor has irony within. The mockery of sophisticated people that look like standup comedians is absolute. The sarcasm pushes everyone into corners of the arena.
Ruben Östlund, The Square. Photo Jose Hermosillo COPYRIGHT  
Swedish director Ruben Östlund is a perfectionist who doesn’t mind doing more than twenty-five takes until he gets what he wants from the actors. He says in five takes,s you can’t get a precise reaction from the performers.

In a conversation with Mr. Östlund, he freely expressed his thoughts on violence in a film, “We love violence in cinema because it doesn’t represent a threat or physical damage to us. Same with dark comedy, it has horror and amusement as well.”

In the director’s previous work, “Force Majure,” the conflict between husband and wife is because of the husband’s passivity and inability to take action to protect his family from an avalanche, which makes him the most hated character in the story, from the wife and everybody else. In contrast with “The Square,” the male character is as susceptible and vulnerable as his female counterpart, regardless of his inability to make the right decisions.

In the director’sdirector’s body of work, the influence of Lina Wertmuller’s misogynist film “Swap Away” (1974) with its battle of the sexes is notorious. And another subtle reference is the surrealistic Oscar winner “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” by Luis Buñuel.

The film, far from condescending, is a rigorous critique of today’s society.
The audience who assisted to the world premiere at the famous French Riviera Film Festival saw themselves reflected on the big screen because the actors in the movie were also wearing tuxedos and nightgowns. The spectators identify with the actors because they look alike.

The story goes furthermore when the performers representing the rich people in the scene contemplate a man acting like an orangutan. He aggressively started capturing the patrons’ fear with his hunting instinct, pushing boundaries to the limit.
While invoking to discover what is inside “The Square,” the director added to the conversation, “Human beings are elementary and easy to change their behavior.”

Anarchy is represented through animal behavior, contrasting with the people’s rights intentions and the true meaning of art.
Ruben Östlund, film critic Jose Hermosillo COPYRIGHT 
Pretentiously conceived to win the Palm d’Or in Cannes, the film aspires to perfection with its terrific cast and original story. Still, its narrative pushes its theme so hard that it misses its substance internally – Then the movie becomes conceited and hard to believe.

The 2017 Palm d’Or winner is elegant and fun to watch, but you can’t only depend a little on what is real and what is not. If you dare to enter to see and experience “The Square” at a museum or opt out to “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

Film Critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Copyright

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