VOD Review - The Square

Ahmed Hassan in "The Square"
This movie intends to be an impactful document of the power of people protesting against an unjust and corrupt government. The downfall is the movie suffers from the same problem as the protestors. Jehane Noujaim's film is limited to the point-of-view and knowledge of the protestors that it follows as if that's enough to achieve what those protestors and the film ultimately want. Clearly, the tons of people who flooded Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, starting in January 2011, and stayed there until President Mubarek stepped down a month or so later, were necessary and vital to the changes in that country. It just seems that the protestors were so consumed with getting Mubarek out, they never stopped to think of what happens next. As a result, the government that took over after Mubarek was no more desirable to the protestors than the one they ousted.

The Square is nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. The movie introduces us to a bunch of young, charismatic, well-spoken, smart and passionate Egyptians. Chief among them is a young, possibly college-age, man named Ahmed Hassan who is the loudest and most aggressive of the protestors that Noujaim follows. The second is Khalid Abdalla, the actor most known from the film The Kite Runner.

Noujaim's documentary is great if for no other reason than its introduction and its allowing us to get to know these two men. The film is great if for no other reason than its depiction of the endurance of all the protestors, their dedication and perseverance, their desire to better their circumstances and country. It's even great for the debates that we hear among the protestors like between Hassan and Madgy Ashour, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party under President Mohamed Morsi that would take over after Mubarek.

There is a scene where we see Adballa's father mention the years of work many Egyptians did in exile. All we hear him say is words to that effect, but no information, no additional information, is given about what those years of work in exile specifically was. Was it legal or political work? The documentary is so insulated as to only show the limited efforts of the protestors and nothing else, as if those efforts were the only important efforts when obviously they weren't, given the end results.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 44 mins.
Available exclusively on Netflix Streaming.


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