The Square | Chicago Reader

The Square

Rated R 142 minutes 2017

"Do you want to save a human life?" asks a woman distributing flyers outside a museum of modern art in Stockholm; the unvarying reply from people on the street is "No." Welcome to the world of Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund, who takes some wicked pot shots at the business of art but more broadly ponders the breakdown of the social contract among all people. The Square is an art installation outside the museum, a little zone in which "we all share equal rights and obligations," and that concept informs much of the film's satire—most provocatively, an art lecture continually interrupted by a man with Tourette's syndrome, who barks obscenities at the museum staffers even as they defend his right to stay. Östlund's breakout film, Force Majeure (2014), lampooned the privilege of wealth; this story turns more on cultural privilege, embodied by the museum's handsome but fatuous curator (Claes Bang). With Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West.

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