The Square

The Square

Directed by: Nash Edgerton
Cast: David Roberts, Claire van der Boom, Joel Edgerton, Anthony Hayes
Running Time: 1 hr 41 mins
Rating: R
Release Date: May 21, 2010 (limited)

PLOT: An affair gets more complicated when a mistress (Boom) asks her man Raymond (Roberts) to steal a bag of cash away from her husband. When Raymond enlists the help of Billy (Edgerton), mistakes start being made.

WHO’S IT FOR? If you love film noir and seeing bad things happen to flawed people, this film is for you. If you need someone to root for, it’s going to be hard to find. Unless of course you’ve been in a similiar situation, and if that’s the case … what’s wrong with you?

EXPECTATIONS: I knew nothing except “film noir.” I didn’t know it was Australian, or without any household names.

SCORECARD (0-10)

ACTORS:

David Roberts as Raymond Yale: Roberts looks like he could take care of business. Put a fancy suit on his and he could be a “cleaner” of the Harvey Keitel Pulp Fiction variety. That’s not the case with his character Raymond though. Ray is a little impish. He’s nervous about rocking the boat, even though he’s already having an affair and taking kick-backs. That’s the odd dilemma with this role. He looks like he should take care of business, but you quickly learn not to have much confidence in this guy.
Score: 6

Claire van der Boom as Carla Smith: Carla opens her legs to Ray and then wants more. She wants to run away together and live happily ever after. You know what helps with that? I big bag of cash. Good thing she knows where her husband is hiding one. Yeah, I could sense the troubles were coming with this logic as well. As soon as she starts thinking, you know she’s in over her head.
Score: 4

Anthony Hayes as Greg ‘Smithy’ Smith: I wanted this guy to be evil. Sure, Carla’s husband is a little mean, and could probably beat most guys up. I needed no sign of the word “probably.” And no, I’m not saying he should have been beating Carla. I just never saw a reason why Carla would want to ruin Smithy’s life. That’s the path she headed down though.
Score: 5

Joel Edgerton as Billy:  What’s wrong with liking a little fire? As soon as Ray brings Billy into the plan, it’s trouble. Man, have you noticed a theme? Every choice seems to bring more trouble. Billy also loves the wrong lady. If Ray’s impish, then she’s almost a mute. It always kills me when someone is holding the info, but doesn’t spill the beans.
Score: 6

TALKING: Everything is talked about in half truths. When Ray wants his kickback money, he doesn’t demand it. He sheepishly asks for half, or maybe all of it. Ray’s wife is barely a character in the story. So when he tosses a couple of lies her way, we just shake it off and move along. And while the Australian accents are thick with a couple of these mates, no need for subtitles.
Score: 5

SIGHTS: One moment crushed me in this film. It’s not because I am a dog owner, it’s because the emotions were pure. Ray and Carla’s dogs were in love with each other. A fairly big lake separated them. It’s getting a little misty in here. Time to move on. The unfortunate part of watching this film, which wasn’t the movie’s fault had to do with the screener copy that Appartition sent me. Worst screener ever. Not only did it keep the “this is the property of” sentence on the screen the entire time, but right in the middle on the left of the screen was “APP502.” It was just sitting there on the screen the whole time. I did my best to ignore it, but it’s a very odd choice by a film company to want to have critics watch a film that way.
Score:

SOUNDS: Some odd choices here. During a high speed car chase they play slow, methodical music. I noticed that Ben Lee (from Australia and a favorite of mine) wrote many of the songs, but didn’t perform them. I wouldn’t have known he was attached to those songs at all had I not looked it up.
Score: 5

PLOT SPOILERS

BEST SCENE: Dogs (see SIGHTS above). It’s the only time I had a rooting interest, which you’ll notice will be an ongoing theme I talk about.

ENDING: You know somebody is going to get it. And by it, I don’t mean a lovely box of chocolates. The violent conclusion had me wanting to do the same thing one of the characters does: walk away.

QUESTIONS: Was the purpose of putting a baby in the back seat, so we could start to think everything was going to turn out OK? Was I supposed to care what happened to anyone? Was someone the smartest in the room? If so, I couldn’t find them.

REWATCHABILITY: No thanks. Nothing particularly wrong with the film, but no performance stood out and they spell out the mystery enough that it shouldn’t warrant a second helping.

OVERALL

Taint. This movie is full of it. Everyone and everything is tainted. It quickly becomes apparent that bad things are going to happen, and they throw a bunch of things at you, which you know spell trouble. An affair, a bag of cash, involving more people than necessary, doing this to please a woman, being bullied into situations … and of course already being a pretty slimy person before the movie even starts. While everything about The Square is done well enough, there is one fatal flaw for me. There’s no one to root for. I never was worried someone would die. I was never worried what would happen to the money. Even the use of “the square” that must be filled with cement didn’t have a serious impact on me. The film does fall into a cliche of other movies capturing the “film noir” genre. Yes, a movie can survive when you don’t have a rooting interest. But it requires a certain freshness that this film doesn’t have.

FINAL SCORE: 5/10

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