NYFF55 Reviews: “Last Flag Flying,” “The Square”


Right back into another film festival! The 55th New York Film Festival has begun and I’m going to be covering a few of the films playing, including revisiting some of my favorites that I already saw at TIFF! I’ve already gotten a chance to see Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” and Ruben Östlund’s “The Square so let’s get these reviews started!


“Last Flag Flying,” dir. Richard Linklater

In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with Former Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) on a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home in suburban New Hampshire. Along the way, Doc, Sal and Mueller reminisce and come to terms with shared memories of the war that continues to shape their lives.

“Last Flag Flying” is one of Richard Linklater’s more emotional films. Instead of getting bogged down in political commentary, Linklater focuses a lot on the three central characters and how war has affected them. Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne give terrific performances, but it’s Steve Carell’s subdued performance that was the most heartbreaking and moving. It does run a little bit long, but I was still very much so impacted by this film.



“The Square,” dir. Ruben Östlund

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.

Director Ruben Östlund has followed up “Force Majeure” with another extremely funny, highly entertaining ride with “The Square.” It plays a lot like a 2 and a half hour Swedish version of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and while it definitely overstays its welcome, I still had a great time watching it. It’s also got several of the funniest moments in any movie this year.


If you want to stay updated with all my reviews at NYFF as I see the films, follow me on my Letterboxd.

Thanks for reading!


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