Film: The Square
Starring:ClaesBang, Elizabeth Moss, Terry Notary
Directed by: RubenOstlund
Rating: * (oneand a half stars)
Look,Ienjoy deviant cinema as much as any cerebral critic who goes to the movies for some serious mental manipulation.
ButThe Squareleft me aggravated and exasperated beyond the norms of cinematic exploration.It is just not fair to weigh down a film with so many disembodied episodes that look like segments of studentsshort-films at afilm-appreciation class mentoredby a professor who thinksavant-garde-ismis thebest way to place rationalein a recline.
The Squareisanexercizeinintellectual nihilism. It aims toshow the passionate proximity between art and pretense and it slowly becomes a casualty ofthe very malaise thatit setsout to expose in the world ofhigh-art representedthe cloisteredstuck-up world of the museum.
A sequence showing privileged museum guests being shouted at by the host for rushing towards thefood tables jostlesfor absurdity with a scholar-audienceinteractive session where anintruder suffering fromTourettesSyndrome keeps interrupting with profanities.
Dont laugh.Because the narrative seeks out the grand absurdity inart conventions , and then invites us to not bejudgementalabout thegrand design that destiny often scoops up into our livesinunexpected ways.
But this film tries yourpatience.There is no way one can allowthe disembodiedimagesofarthouseartifice to merge with the museum curator Christiansafter-hours adventures whichincludes a tumble in the hay with an American journalist(while ababy ape sits patientlyin thenext room) who first pulls him up during aninterview for making pretentious comments on thenature of Art and mankinds struggle to yoke works of art withthe rhythms of daily existence. The journalist then rebukes Christian for forgettingher name the morning after the feisty love-making .Her preposterous bullying isnodifferent what this Swedish films director expectsfrom us the audience.
The American journalistslove-making sequence with Christiano has a twisted ironic subtext(as does nearly every sequence in thishaphazardlywritten dialectic on the polemicof artisticpretension) when she wantsto preserve the condom with Christians semen after their lovemaking.
Whatdoes she want do with it? Ihave no clue. Thisis a work of arrested artand rapidpromotional developments, that had me wondering about itsraisondetremostofthe way.Why did director RubenOstlundsquander somuch precious time on creating a world so devoid ofcontinuity andflow?Its like watchinga free-flowing trapeze artiste who has forgotten tobuffer his fallon the ground.
Bythe time Teri Notary(filled with bestial hormonal anxiety)arrives at an elitist sit-downdinner playing the human ape tocreatehavocamong the guests, I was donewithlooking for a centre to the plot.
There is none.Unless you wouldliketo see a central stream in the themeofcreating chaosin the universe of the creative, and looking for artifice inart and thensatirizingit with a savagery thatis at once brutal startling and ridiculous.
Creating chaos is amajor themeinThe Square. Christian does so bysendingpersonal threatening letters to people whomhe suspectsof stealinghis cellphone and wallet. Eventually the payoff catches up with him in ways that are as aggressively circumventas arollercoasterride that derailsmidway .
Yes,The Squareis a filmbrimmimgwith provocative ideas and audacious images. Butthey all add up finally to creating acosmos that is as loosely constructed as an interstellar missile poised for takeoff into a galaxy thatdoesnt really exist outside the creators head.
You are very likely to come away from this experience embittered and swearing to stay awayfrom everything Swedish except the music of ABBA allyour life.
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