The Square is the name of the film from Ruben Östlund, but it is also a good description of the kind of person he makes films about. Östlundian heroes are straight-edged, complacent types who prove less capable under pressure than they might like to think, and the Swedish director likes nothing more than holding their souls to the grill until they start to spit.
His latest target is Christian, the lead of this well-liked Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, and a classic of the type. Played by the Danish actor Claes Bang, he is the chief curator of a stylish museum in Stockholm, with an electric car, a softly lit kitchen, a social conscience, and fetching horn-rimmed specs.
The Square is the name of his latest art project: a kind of minimalist take on the importance of community values, marked out with geometric precision on the cobbles outside.
Ironically, shortly before the launch, Christian has his wallet and phone stolen in broad daylight: he appreciates the irony, but not enough to simply chalk up the incident to experience. So he follows his phone’s GPS signal to a tower block in a shady part of town, and pushes a threatening note through each of its residents’ letterboxes – composed with help from a colleague – in the hope the thief will read one and hand in his belongings.
The Square’s first hour or so ticks along as a sly and gleaming bourgeois art-world satire, which generates as many gasps at Östlund’s immaculate compositions as it does anxious laughs over Christian’s phone-retrieval scheme, which has far-reaching and excruciating consequences. Supporting characters come and go like the leads in their own recurring skits. Elisabeth Moss is an American TV arts corespondent compiling a piece on the gallery, and Dominic West is a Julian Schnabel-like visiting artist who presides over his Q&As in sockless trainers, silk pyjamas and a double-breasted sports jacket.
Then there is Terry Notary, who plays a chimpanzee-fixated performance artist whose piece at a patrons’ dinner goes so far beyond the bounds of acceptability you feel your skeleton squirming in horror as you watch. The sequence is an outrageous, Borat-level provocation, but it is also a slippery critique of bourgeois politesse. Östlund at his best can have his cake and push it in your face.
Slowly and steadily, the stakes and indignities are winched up in tandem, and Christian’s life starts to splinter under the stress. His relationship with Moss’s interviewer takes a number of unfavourable turns, while a “provocative” PR firm enlisted to launch the new exhibit veers horrifically off-message with a viral video ad that could have come from the mind of Chris Morris.
Yet as in Östlund’s earlier films – Involuntary (2008), Play (2011) and Force Majeure (2014) are the three to have had UK releases – there is compassion and concern and perhaps even a certain fondness for the characters here, even as they’re getting it in the neck. Some sequences, including an episode in a shopping centre where Christian’s daughters go missing, have the same dreamlike quality as the deadpan tableaux of the Swedish master Roy Andersson, which helps pad the film’s jabbier, more Haneke-like edges.
Östlund’s film is a sleek rejoinder to Christian’s disastrous PR team, who believe cutting through the noise of modern life requires short, sharp shocks. The Square shows that slow burn, when it’s kindled just right, has a cumulative heat that makes you wilt in your seat.
The Daily Telegraph
Our fabulous Social Night will be on Saturday 9th February - a night of films, food, quizzes and prizes!
Tickets are now available for our forthcoming Social Evening. This will take place on Saturday 9th February at St Mary's Creative Space, starting at 7.30pm. This event is open to all, not just members of the Film Society. Invite your friends along! The evening includes our famous wall quiz, raffle, caption competition and audio quiz. Some great prizes to be won!
Throughout the evening a selection of short films will be shown for your entertainment.
Food is included in the price, and will comprise a variety of curries (including vegetarian option), along with a sweet. Soft drink will also be available free of charge.
Tickets are just £12. Either buy from one of the films or online by clicking the Link below.
TICKETS ARE GUARANTEED TO SELL OUT - MAKE SURE YOU GET YOURS NOW!
PLEASE NOTE THAT NO TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON THE DOOR
Direct link to buy here
We'll be opening up Half Season memberships for all our 2019 films in the current season - that's 8 films for just £20!
Buy for yourself or as a Great Christmas gift for your film fan friend.
Direct link to buy here
Fascinating look at film genre popularity from 1910 to now (via Reddit).