Sunday, January 28, 2018

“The Square” An “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“The Square,” a brilliant, irreverent, intellectually and emotionally entertaining piece of art.

This sophisticated and well-told story centers on a Stockholm museum’s director and art curator, Christian (Claes Bang), who through a new exhibit, elegantly falls into a personal, professional, and existentialist catastrophe.

Pretending to be the perfect role model, a good father figure and a fantastic lover - this man in power thinks, he can take to his bed any woman he wants. In this case, a charming American reporter (Elisabeth Moss), who is covering the story of the museum's new exhibit - after a few drinks, they went to her surreal apartment where they have one of the funniest after-sex scenes ever.
Elisabeth Moss The Square poster. Photo courtesy of  Magnolia Pictures.
“The Square” is a wonderful satire. It displays human behavior in implausible situations blown out of proportions. As Christian says, “We as a museum mustn’t be afraid to push boundaries.”

The irony is made out of sarcastic humor -mockery is where real people look like a standup comedians pushing everyone into corners in complex situations.
The Square poster. Photo courtesy of  Magnolia Pictures.
Director Ruben Östlund says, “We love violence in cinema because it doesn’t represent any threat or physical damage to us. The same is with dark comedy - it has horror and amusement as well.”
Director Ruben Östlund, photo by Jose Hermosillo  Director Fatih Akin, 'In the Fade' ©2018 FESTIVAL IN LA 
Departing from the director’s previous work “Force Majure” - passivity makes the husband the most hated character in the story. In “The Square,” the male character is as susceptible and vulnerable as the female counterpart, the story is well-balanced.

"The Square" is opposite to the battle of the sexes situations presented in the Lina Wertmuller’s overrated Italian film “Swap Away” (1974).

Another of the director’s influence is the surreal style Luis Buñuel in his Oscar winner masterpiece “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” that shows eccentric rich people as they really are.

Psychologically, this film is not condescending. And, it was conceived exclusively to win the Palm d’Or in Cannes.

The attendees to the premiere at the Festival in French Riviera saw themselves on the big screen, while the actors in the movie were also dressed formally in tuxedos and ball gowns.
The story goes further when the performers representing rich people contemplate a bizarre spectacle, a naked-chested man, acting like an enormous and out of control orangutan. The man/animal captures everyone's fear with his hunting instincts pushing boundaries to the limit.

Anarchy is represented through animal behavior, contrasting with people's intentions to act righteously.

When filming, this talented director doesn't mind to shoot a scene more than twenty-five times. He firmly believes that in five takes, he cannot get what he wants from the actors. This perfectionist position makes his work stand-out.
Claes Bang, The Square poster. Photo courtesy of  Magnolia Pictures.
This filmmaker aspires to perfection, pushing the storyline so hard that it misses its substance. The film then becomes pretentious and redundant, as at one point the story is hard to believe. Personally, I had so much fun watching it, but the story doesn't satisfy at internal level.

“Human beings are very simple and easy to change their behavior,” the director said that while he also makes the invitation to discover what is inside “The Square” in the controversial art exhibit.
Film critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo
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