20 October 2017.
THE SQUARE ***1/2
An audacious social commentary at this year’s Cannes film festival, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s film is a harsh reflection on the hypocrisy and idiocy of the art milieu. It also delves into the guilt complex of Northern Europeans vs. immigrants, and the arid state of instant, impersonal sex.
The film takes place in and around a contemporary museum in Stockholm, with its director as the central dupe of this nerve-wracking tale which takes the audience deeper and deeper into bizarre occurrences. As brilliant as his last film “Force Majeure”, this one goes further under one’s skin to turn the spectator into a voyeur as in some northern gladiator game, in particular in one gala evening in which a poor muscleman is turned into an Elephant Man-like spectacle. Here is a tragic, troubling allegory that some found amusing.
It took the Palme d’Or in Cannes for its profound look into today’s troubling world
LA BELLE ET LA MEUTE / BEAUTY AND THE DOGS **** (vo French/Arabic)
Another important film at Cannes was this exceptionally brave work from the talented female director Kaouther Ben Hania from Tunisia. As with her last film, “Le Challat de Tunis”, Ben Hania continues her feminist struggle for women’s rights in her country. She was also a special guest at Salma Hayek’s Women in Motion conferences in Cannes.
Aptly titled BEAUTY AND THE DOGS, her film retraces the night a girl was raped by three police officers. Based on a true event which took place in 2011, the young victim’s desperate quest for some retribution and justice makes for a chilling thriller and a powerfully honest look at the inequalities entrenched both in Islamic and Western cultures.
Like “The Square”, this is a superbly made film, making it all the more essential viewing.
KNOCK * (vo French)
An ex-swindler works hard to become a doctor, and finally finds himself the brand new physician in a small town in France. Trying too hard to find patients, his past life manages to creep up on him. This fourth adaptation of an old classic (1951, starring Louis Jouvet) is a heavy-handed, too obvious and not-so-amusing comedy that uses Omar Sy, of “Les Intouchables” to give it some novelty. But would a town in the 1950s be so easily accepting of a black man? For director Lorraine Levy’s attempt at switching Nazism to racism doesn’t quite work here. And the formulaic scenario plus Sy’s overacting drags the film down. Save your time and money.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.