Christian is the respected curator of a contemporary art museum, a divorced but devoted father of two who drives an electric car and supports good causes. His next show is "The Square", an installation which invites passersby to altruism, reminding them of their role as responsible fellow human beings. But sometimes, it is difficult to live up to your own ideals: Christian's foolish response to the theft of his phone drags him into shameful situations. Meanwhile, the museum's PR agency has created an unexpected campaign for "The Square". The response is overblown and sends Christian, as well as the museum, into an existential crisis.
The A.V. Club/A.A. Dowd
This is a movie with a lot on its mind, from art to altruism to the so-called bystander effect, and it could function as a Rorschach test for its audience, reflecting viewers’ anxieties and insecurities right back at them. It’s also just really, really funny, at least for those who can find humor in humiliation.
Wall Street Journal/Joe Morgenstern
The Square is too long at 150 minutes and occasionally falls into the sort of preciosity it loves to deride. But the film is full of delicious rif.
Los Angeles Times/Justin Chang
The Square means to send you out of the theater arguing, and its success on that front should not eclipse its more lasting, unsettling achievement. It affirms that art, this movie very much included, can tell us things about ourselves that we’d prefer not to know.
Village Voice/Bilge Ebiri
Östlund is specific and exacting as a writer and director, and within The Square’s empty spaces, we’re forced to confront our own values, and our own visions of ourselves.
The humanity behind The Square‘s jabs save it from seeming nihilistic but they also implicate everyone watching. The film seems less nasty for having such a well-developed protagonist, but also that much more squirm-inducing for anyone who recognizes a bit too much of themselves in Christian’s unexamined attitudes.
The Atlantic/David Sims
The Square is darkly amusing, but it’s also bracingly honest in its absurdity, and that’s what kept me coming back to each one of its wonderfully knotty scenarios even months after seeing it.