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Here’s why a chimp suddenly appears in this year’s Cannes Film Festival winner, ‘The Square’

By in Press Enterprise on October 23, 2017

By Bob Strauss

It was not a big surprise when “The Square” won the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at last spring’s Cannes Film Festival.

There may have been more favorably handicapped pictures by directors with longer reputations than Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund had. But his “Square’s” combination of social awareness, jaw-dropping absurdity and aesthetic confidence certainly made it a contender – and, ultimately, a winner.

Perhaps least surprised of all was Ostlund himself. He had, after all, designed “The Square” to conquer Cannes.

“It’s super important to set the goal of what you’re aiming for in order to make the decisions you have to make,” the tall, trim, 43-year-old filmmaker says during a recent visit to L.A. “If you don’t succeed, well, OK, but at least the goal made it possible for you to increase your performance. It’s always been very important for me to say we are aiming for Cannes or whatever it is.”

More on Ostlund and awards in a bit. But first, lest you think that he’s mainly out to win prizes, understand that the director’s fifth feature is so personal, it’s built around an earlier art project he helped create. As in the movie, the title quadrilateral is a space Ostlund and some partners have set up in several Swedish cities, which anyone in need of aid can stand in and, theoretically, those passing by will be obligated to help (or at least empathize).

Terry Notary in a scene from “The Square.” Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

While it may work as planned occasionally in real life, the square in the movie mostly causes trouble for the well-meaning art museum curator, pointedly named Christian and played by Danish actor Claes Bang. Christian, however, is more adept at causing trouble for himself, in situations ranging from an ill-advised response to having his pockets picked to bizarre […]    

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