The Square review: The Aussie neo-noir thriller enlivens with black irony

The Square review: The Aussie neo-noir thriller enlivens with black irony

Source: AssociatedPress

By: Jake Coyle

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 09 April 2010

Movie Title

The Square review: The Aussie neo-noir thriller enlivens with black irony


Nash Edgerton

Star Cast

David Roberts, Claire van der Boom, Joel Edgerton, Anthony Hayes

James M Cain has been resurrected as an Aussie.

The Australian neo-noir thriller The Square blatantly but faithfully channels Cain's hard-boiled tales of doomed affairs and dubious murder plots.

The film's set up is straight out of Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice. An adulterous couple, seeing a chance for a getaway together with a bundle of cash, go for it.

Raymond Yale (David Roberts) is a middle-aged, gray-haired man with a solemn face and a Roman nose. He runs a construction company that, ironically, is building a couple's retreat outside Sydney. The title refers both to that project and Raymond's supposed nature.

But appearances can be deceiving: This "square," though clad in V-necks and khakis, commits adultery and aggressively negotiates a kickback for himself before we even meet his wife.

"It's always the quiet ones," a business partner says ruefully.

He's having an affair with the beautiful, younger Carla (Claire van der Boom) ? a waif of a femme fatale. They meet in their cars, parked under a high overpass and near a lower road traversing the neighborhood cove. The meaning is clear: Two roads are offered, and Raymond and Carla are choosing the lower.

Carla's boyfriend, with whom she lives, is a rougher character. Red-bearded and mulletted, Greg or "Smithy" (Anthony Hayes) and his drinking buddies have their own illicit business on the side. When Carla notices a bag of money Greg has stashed away, she and Raymond hatch a plan to steal it, cloaking the theft by burning the house down. The plot, which includes hiring an arsonist (Joel Edgerton, who co-wrote the script with Matthew Dabner), doesn't go quite as planned. As their control of the situation spirals, Raymond's face hardens to the task.

That the fallout will be accompanied by a twisted sense of humor is hinted at by the short film shown ahead of The Square. The nine-minute Spider was, like the feature film, directed by Nash Edgerton, Joel's brother and a former stuntman making his directorial debut. (His stunt credits include The Matrix, Superman Returns and many others.)

In Spider, a man trying to win over his angry girlfriend by dressing up their car with flowers, candy and a little toy spider. The unexpected surprise of the latter has an outsized effect of calamity, and if you're paying attention, you'll spot one of the short's characters making his way to the emergency room in The Square.

The same dark comedy is employed in The Square with shockingly immediate deaths, critical cell phone misfortune and even ? most incredulously ? a shark attack of a lovesick dog. It's the kind of movie that features a spectacular car crash, only to reveal, by quiet crying from the wreckage, that a baby was inside.

Though a few of these scenes sacrifice some of the movie's integrity, they also enliven it with a black irony. The brothers Edgerton may not be able to summon the dangerous lust or romance of a Cain story, but they can ably supply the wry sense of fate.

Good on you, mates.

The Square, an Apparition release, is rated R for violence and language.

Running time: 101 minutes

Rating: Three stars out of four

recent reviews

Keshu Ee Veedinte Naadhan

Time pass comedy entertainer

Plan Panni Pannanum

Average comedy entertainer


Decent rural family entertainer


Soubin Shahir and Mamta Mohandas shine in this conventional film

Read more