About the Film
What is “The Square”? It is an alternative space against chaos, recklessness and social segregation. It is, according to Östlund’s artist’s statement for his 2015 installation with Kalle Boman, which the film is loosely based on, “a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” Subsequently, The Square, whatever and wherever it is (a yard, a hall, a room, a shopping complex, a park, a tram car, etc.), becomes a space for reckoning, where trust and social viability—values explored in Östlund’s previous films Play (2011) and Force Majeure (2014)— are questioned and tested.
The director of the contemporary art gallery becomes a European prophet but he is defeated within the confines of his “Square” when his phone is stolen and he suspects a young immigrant. The justified motivations in this case do not follow the reasonable path (police, law, trial), but rather fall directly into a pit of hostility, racism, and inhumanity. The pillars of «The Square» can no longer protect public codes of conduct which we later see collapse in one of the film’s most impressive scenes, when a theatre actor in a gorilla costume crashes a formal party, breaking the fragile, contrived, classspecific social order of a group that considers itself beyond threat.
Structurally, The Square, which won the coveted Palme d’Or at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, is a collection of sketched installations, biting in their sarcasm, and shocking in the audacity of their ideological rage.
Ruben Östlund is an artist and filmmaker born in 1974. His debut feature The Guitar Mongoloid (2004) won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2005 Moscow International Film Festival. His second feature, Involuntary, was screened at the Un Certain Regard section of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, before he won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale for his short film Incident by a Bank in 2009. His 2011 film Play was successively screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, while his fourth feature Force Majeure (2014) won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in Cannes, before winning 16 other international awards, in addition to a Golden Globe nomination.