REVIEW- The Square: On interpreting the human condition, evolution and modern society


It’s modern-day Sweden, with culture in its epicentre. Christian, a contemporary art museum’s curator has been working on a special show with his group called The Square.  “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” – states the message of the show. With questions and demands such as “Do you trust people?”, and “Let’s put your phone down in a painted square on the floor and see if it will be there when the show is over”, it’s easy to see why people would gravitate towards it. It’s daring and different, yet at the same time it has a universal theme that everybody can grasp, but when two journalists decide to make an advertising video for the show, everything goes awry.

Christian (played by Claes Bang), endures many adventures throughout the film. He sleeps with Anne, an interviewer after a party. Anne’s character (played by Elizabeth Moss), left me deeply disappointed. The most interesting thing about her is that she owns a monkey as a pet. Yes, you read that right. A monkey! She is so one-dimensional. She decides to drunkenly sleep with Christian, then expects him to suddenly have deep feelings for her, when in reality, they don’t even know each other’s full names (or, in Christian’s case, none of their names). She’s so desperate, and spends the movie pining after him, waiting around for his call.  We can see a bit of her intelligence at the beginning, but the desperate need for male attention overshadows it. When confronting him, instead of being seen as powerful for standing up for herself, she just seems pathetic and I just couldn’t feel for her.

The Square’s most prolific moment is the hunting experiment near the end of the film. It stays with you. Terry Notary plays Oleg terrifyingly great, a man who pretends to be a monkey. The scene is long, chilling, and disturbing. You will want to look away. At first, Oleg’s just playing his part, perfectly fine, people even laugh a bit. But then, he starts to sense that people are actually starting to get afraid of him, and he gets out of control. He nearly rapes a woman, and for excruciating moments, everybody lets him. Eventually, the guests start to fight back, which resolves beating Oleg, possibly to death. These minutes do an excellent job at showcasing our evolution. That deep down, we are all animals, and in the end, it all comes down to our instinct of ensuring survival, no matter the cost.

A big plot of the film is that Christian’s belongings get stolen, and he spends a good chunk of the movie trying to get them back. Suddenly, we’re dropped into a whirlwind of chaos. With the help of his coworker, they track his devices down to one building. But they don’t know the exact part of the building where his belongings are, so they figure they will make flyers and put it in every apartment of the complex indicating the people who live there with theft and demand back Christian’s things. He eventually gets them back, anonymously, but not without consequences.  His rash decision will have an unwanted impact on no other than a little boy, whose parents come to think he’s a thief because of the flyer. He keeps cornering Christian into admitting that what he did was wrong, and asks him to apologise. One night, when Christian has his daughters over, the boy comes inside his house. In a rage, after not bearing to listen to him anymore, he pushes the boy down the stairs. For the whole night, he hears him shout for help, but he never helps him. Feeling remorse, the next day, alongside with his daughters, he goes back to the apartment to apologise, but the boy cannot be found. They moved out, the neighbours say. And that is how the movie ends. It leaves us on an ambiguous note. The child might be dead, after all. We all heard the shouting. But maybe he went home to his parents and they moved together. But that is less likely the case.

This film has the capability of touching many people’s lives; holding a mirror for them. It certainly did for me. It’s a take on our morals in this modern society we live in. From the homeless people and our attitude towards them to wanting to lead as an example yet being unable to change ourselves. Ultimately isolated, but with a little bit of trust and a willingness to change and being open minded, to be able to look outside of our little bubbles, it can mean everything.

by Eszti Jászfalvi

Eszter Jászfalvi is a 17 year old femme from Budapest, Hungary, who’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist, a budding actress, a bibliophile and a beginner cook. Her favourite films include The Virgin SuicidesMarie Antoinette, Psycho, Donnie Darko, The Imitation Game and Brokeback Mountain. She’ll watch anything that Tim Burton and Wes Anderson makes, and whatever Dane Dehaan and Mia Wasikowska acts in. She’s also a serious binge watcher of all the good shows, such as Mr. Robot, Gossip Girl, American Horror Story, Bates Motel, Reign, also Black-ish. You can find her on Instagram @esztisworld and on Tumblr at

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