Sweden’s awkward tour-de-force ‘The Square’ eyes Oscar

News Hour

It was more of an apologetic retreat than an ostentatious flounce, but one critic decided he’d had enough two hours into Ruben Ostlund’s Palme d’Or-winning “The Square.”

As he left the Beverly Hills screening room, muttering, a man on screen pretending to be an ape was busy violently assaulting a female guest at a black tie dinner.

As unforgettably strange as it is provocative, Ostlund’s fourth feature was announced this month as Sweden’s entry at the Oscars for best foreign language film.


It would be unfair to describe the movie, with its unwieldy 142-minute running time, as divisive since it has an impressive 77 percent approval rating on film website Rotten Tomatoes, but it certainly is polarizing.

Amid the many plaudits, Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty thought it “tries so hard it’s practically sweating,” while A.O. Scott of the New York Times said the movie was “ultimately complacent, craven and clueless.”

“I’m not doing movies to be loved by the audience, I’m doing movies because I want to raise questions about a topic or theme,” Ostlund, 43, said in a recent interview with AFP.

“The Square” which opened theatrically in the US on Friday — stars Danish actor Claes Bang as Christian, the respected curator of a contemporary art museum, a divorced but devoted father-of-two with a social conscience.

Christian discovers how difficult it is to live up to his own ideals in a foolish response to the theft of his phone that drags him increasingly deeper into trouble.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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