Opens:March 1
Genre:Satirical comedy
Duration:142 minutes

Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund made a big splash on the international circuit with his last film Force Majeure, a penetrating story about a family crisis triggered by an Alpine avalanche. His follow-up, a mischievously bold satire on the contemporary art world and 21st-century communications, has seen his reputation rise even further by bagging the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year. Does it live up to expectations outside of the heat of a festival environment? I believe it does. Östlund is not one of these art film auteurs who feel drama is suspect. The Squareis littered with dramatic confrontations and struggles that make it engaging and accessible to a wider audience without undermining its thoughtfulness or ability to take outlandish risks and pull them off. The hapless protagonist Christian (Claes Bang) is the curator at a major Stockholm contemporary art gallery whose latest installation – a square marked into the cobblestones outside the institution’s entrance – is meant to encourage the public to meet as equals and allow their empathetic sides to emerge (it’s based on a real-life installation previously mounted by Östlund and a creative partner).

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