Ruben Ostlund is back. The controversial writer-director best known for his “Force Majeure” is here with his perplexing, confusing, but sometimes amusing, two-and-a-half hour “The Square.”

Friends who saw the first hour of the two-and-one-half hours describe it as a satirical look at Sweden’s “modern art scene.”

Even after two-and-a-half hours, you would think I could paint a lucid picture, but my dog just died, I have a cold, and I’m fresh out of lucidity.

Here are a few notes: The very handsome Claes Bang, an actor from Denmark, appears here as Christian, a museum curator at Stockholm, Sweden’s famous museum.

We meet Christian as he’s being interviewed by, Oh, thank Heavens, it’s Elizabeth Moss from “Mad Men.” Now, I can relax. Liz never does anything off the wall; Liz, a very American girl, is, in a Waukegan, Illinois, sort of way, always very lovely and very good.

Here Liz plays a reporter who lives with a large chimpanzee. Did I just say that out loud? Liz will be back with her extra large chimpanzee in a minute.

Catching up with Christian, we see that he’s positioning two little girls in this art project, a square border set in a carved out area in front of a large building.

This square is lined with a permanent string of LED lights and a bronze plaque that explains that this area is a “sanctuary of trust and caring.”

I’ll skip the scene with the little exploding girl. You don’t see it anyway.

There is a PowerPoint pitch earnestly delivered, and best seen after a peppermint NyQuil latte, by two earnest young artists.

Our patience fades when the players forget the first law of comedy: Stop when you’re dying, and get off stage.

Alas, endless minutes go by while the museum directors, one is a bearded man holding a baby, giggle and roll their eyes.

Things look up momentarily when Elizabeth and Christian wind up in her bedroom and very slowly undress.

To avoid any kinkiness, Elizabeth locks her chimpanzee out in the living room, leaving him/her with what appears to be a coloring book and a curious expression.

Finally their coitus they do make in spasms of pants and gasps, mostly Elizabeth’s; Christian, a very modern Swede, hip and cool, simply relents.

Hold on. When it’s over, Elizabeth demands Christian’s used condom. Did I say that out loud? He refuses. She insists. He refuses. She insists.

For several minutes they argue back and forth.

“Give it to me.”




And then she grabs it and pulls, he holds. The condom, holding his prop seed, stretches across the bed until it resembles one of those balloons that clowns make animals from.

Finally Elizabeth wins, takes it and places it in a canister. Make of that what you will.

There is a startling scene, obviously tossed in for shock value, of a half nude beast of a man imitating a gorilla, who appears at a society dinner, traipsing over chinaware and silver, whilst accosting Dior gowned matrons. Make of that what you will.

There is a theme that runs through the film about Christian’s purloined cell phone and wallet, that shows Christian at one point pawing through a mound of dumpster garbage in the rain. Make of it what you will.

“The Square” was obviously awarded the Palm d’or at Cannes for one wonderfully hilarious scene at the beginning, when a group of workers carefully go about taking down a statue of what looks like a bronze version of Monty Python’s Sir Galahad The Pure, to make room for the LED Square.

The crane gently lifts Galahad in the air and then suddenly drops him, breaking him into six pieces; I counted them. It was pure Monty Python. The boys should get a shoutout.

The bad news here is that Julia Roberts does not make an appearance, and the good news is that no chimpanzees are harmed.

Stay calm viewers, Woody’s on his way.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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