Swedish provocateur Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure) took home the Palme d’Or at Cannes for this no-holds-barred satire of the postmodern art world, about a self-important curator whose attempts to mount an ambitious exhibition go hilariously awry.
Swedish provocateur Ruben Östlund, the director of Force Majeure, returns with The Square, one of his most audacious pieces to date and winner of Cannes' prestigious Palme d'Or. A spot-on, no-holds-barred satire of the more vapid foibles of the postmodern art world, the film follows Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of Sweden's most cutting-edge art museum. (An index of the elitist and possibly doomed nature of the contemporary art world, the museum is located in a former palace.) Imperious, self-centred, and hopelessly befuddled, Christian's attempts to promote his exhibits are deflected by personal misfortunes and culminate with a less than successful online campaign designed by two twentysomething chuckleheads who have been inhaling even more rarified air than Christian.
The Square is full of brilliant and dazzling set pieces, like an onstage interview gone horribly awry and a performance piece gone even more horribly wrong (in, possibly, the year's most indelible scene). Östlund refuses to score easy points, outlining the challenges that face artists trying to examine the increasingly complex and absurd world we live in and dealing with the privileged (and often borderline hostile) members of the audience who consider art only as social statement or financial investment.
One of the most undaunted examples of the comedy of extreme discomfort and social collapse, The Square is worthy of the great Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel or Östlund's mentor, Roy Andersson.