The Square


Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 14, 2014
    Not only is it a searing on-the-ground, in-the-fray portrait of the heart of Egypt's ongoing revolution, but it is also a stirring tribute to the indomitable spirit of those who are risking, and in many cases giving, their lives to keep it alive.
  2. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jan 16, 2014
    In this vibrant, lyrical, graphic, sobering and finally soaring testament to aesthetic and political expression, Noujaim consistently provides light where once there was heat.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 31, 2013
    The Square bears witness to history in an articulate, thoughtful and intensely dramatic way.
  4. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Oct 24, 2013
    Even though The Square depicts widely covered recent events, it still feels like a revelation. This is partly because of the immediacy of Ms. Noujaim’s approach, which often puts the viewer in the midst of chaos as it unfolds.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 1, 2013
    By the film’s end, the main protagonists have become more philosophical, if no less ardent, about the future of Egypt. “We are not looking for a leader,” Hassan declares. “We are looking for a conscience.” He has only to look in the mirror.
  6. Reviewed by: James Greenberg
    Sep 25, 2013
    A riveting firsthand account of the Egyptian revolution presented with remarkable immediacy and filmmaking skill.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 16, 2014
    An electrifying, at times heartbreaking documentary from the Egyptian-born, Harvard-educated documentarian Jehane Noujaim (“Control Room”).
  8. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Jan 9, 2014
    It seethes with frustration on its subjects’ behalf – that for all the impact their stand has had, they still face a many-headed hydra on the road to real democracy.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Oct 31, 2013
    The Square stands as a valuable document of a tormented time, an anatomy of a revolutionary movement doomed by a paucity of viable institutions, and by the movement's failure to advance a coherent agenda. (It's all the more heartbreaking when a speaker at one of the protests cries fervently, "We will fill the world with poetry.")
  10. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Oct 25, 2013
    The historically essential document they’ve created here pulses with an immediacy that will leave you simultaneously enlightened and stunned.
  11. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Oct 22, 2013
    [A] powerful, exacting depiction of Egypt's struggle for meaningful change.
  12. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Oct 22, 2013
    The Square offers more than just pictures of a revolution; it lets you into the mind-set of those fighting for their future, and that makes all the difference.
  13. 80
    The Square is inner-world-shaking.
  14. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Sep 25, 2013
    The Square is journalism, but Noujaim’s agenda is greater than mere reportage.
  15. Reviewed by: Simon Houpt
    Jan 16, 2014
    In the end, Ahmed claims a kind of victory, noting that open dissent and public protest has become embedded in the culture, even if Egyptians have not yet found a leader to unite them all. Something has begun, he says. Its real meaning is not yet clear.
  16. Reviewed by: Diana Drumm
    Nov 13, 2013
    The Square gives us the context of Egyptian uprisings, full of heart and hope, but the crux of the Revolution remains muddy.
  17. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Oct 25, 2013
    The result shows the human stakes and often punishing difficulties of challenging entrenched powers and interests.
  18. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Oct 25, 2013
    The director recut the movie several times as events overtook it. She may yet do so again — although if more major changes occur, they could merit beginning another documentary. As The Square makes clear, Noujaim would not hesitate to rush back into the fray.
  19. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Oct 23, 2013
    There’s a sense in which The Square feels incomplete, like the first part of a much longer effort. It’s hard to blame Noujaim for presenting it to the public now, but the decision to do so is primarily political, not artistic.
  20. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Sep 25, 2013
    A blistering portrait of rebellion against social discord, marginalization and oppression, and a call to arms for true democratic ideals of dignity, justice, and fairness.
  21. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Oct 23, 2013
    It catches, in the most authentic and democratic way possible, a collection of people who’ve developed a strong taste for revolution, but are still trying to figure out what to do with it.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 28, 2014
    Director Jehane Noujaim delivers a riveting documentary with "The Square,"which manages to powerfully convey the chaos, complexity, andDirector Jehane Noujaim delivers a riveting documentary with "The Square,"which manages to powerfully convey the chaos, complexity, and inherent dangers of a Revolutionary movement. The film boldly provides a perspective unattainable by journalists, and the activity recorded from 2011 to 2013 captures the passion and defiance of a movement first hand. The fight for a democratic Egypt is far from over, which is part of what makes the film so dynamic and riveting.

    "The Square" is a documentary that traces the events of Egypt's Tahrir Square protests beginning in early 2011 when millions of people took to the streets to demand the removal of President/Dictator Hosni Mubarek, who held power for 30 years. However, when Mubarek is overthrown, the army steps in to temporarily take over the countries affairs, but does not follow through with their promises to its citizens.

    After a free and fair election, the military fascist dictatorship is essentially replaced by a religious fascist dictatorship under President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Once again, the protesters unite and return to the Square to face a violent military oppression. It's a harrowing narrative of people twice betrayed: once by the army and again by militant Islamists who insist on a constitution based on religion instead of secularism.

    Noujaim tells the story primarily through focussing on three activists, all of whom are friends. A charismatic, young artist named Ahmed Hassan, a British accented actor-turned activist Khalid Abdalla ("United 93"and "The Kite Runner"), and a family man Magdy Ashour, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who finds his loyalties to his friends tested. The film's storyline follows the revolutionaries through the euphoria of victory, followed with the uncertainties and dangers while under military rule that threatens the politics of democracy.

    "The Square" documents the promise and hope of a better future at the beginning, but by the end, you are left with an overwhelming sense of opportunities lost. While a more detailed back story of political maneuvering would have provided welcome context, its implications for the future are extraordinary. The revolution is a work in progress, a rebellion against an oppressive regime, and a call to arms for true democratic ideals. Informative international media outlets are few, and international news rarely generates much interest in the US. Ever more so it's the courageous filmmakers recording history with handheld cameras that are filling the void.
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