“The Square” is one of those movies where somebody gets an idea. An unscrupulous idea. In this case, Carla finds a sack of money her boyfriend, “Smithy” has been hiding from her and, subsequently, decides she would like to steal it. In order to pull off said unscrupulous idea she needs a little help. So she asks somebody she has a pretty good feeling will go along with the idea. Ray, the man she is having an affair with.
Apprehensive at first, Ray eventually warms to the idea. Afraid Smithy might become a bit suspicious of who stole the money if it simply disappears from the attic, the two hatch a plan to cover their tracks. The plan involves kick-backs Ray has been taking illegally from his construction contract and a bit of arson. What plan is complete without a little bit of arson?
“The Square” is reminiscent of “A Simple Plan” or any number of Coen Brothers’ films. The plan doesn’t really seem too terribly complicated but one thing goes wrong immediately and everything promptly spirals out of control beyond reason. There are misunderstandings between Ray, Carla and the hired arsonist. There are attempted cover-ups, and cover-ups of cover-ups and, just for good measure, even a little bit of blackmail.
One particularly unusual aspect of “The Square” is its lack of detailed explanation. “Smithy” appears to be some sort small town thug, but what, exactly, he does or where the money came from remains a mystery throughout the film. Ray is married and there are a couple scenes indicating his wife might have an inclination her husband is cheating on her, but it is never explored. Ray hires an arsonist, but how he finds an arsonist isn’t very clear.
This doesn’t take away from the film, however. Too often films get bogged down with unnecessary details. We don’t really need to know these elements. This allows us to stay focused on the major players at hand in what is a pretty convoluted plot in the first place. If you are looking for nice and tidy, this isn’t the film. Even the end purposefully leaves unanswered questions.
The film, written by Joel Edgerton and directed by his brother, Nash, a former stuntman, is dark, edgy, tense, and well acted. It hits every point as it should when it should. It’s a surprisingly well made debut, heavily recommended if you are a fan of crime noir or thrillers.
One last thing. Although it is never specifically addressed, the entire movie seems to take place in a small town in Australia and the accents in the film are fairly thick. This could , conceivably, explain some of the missing details. While you won’t miss any of the major plot points, I feel as though if I were going to watch the film again, subtitles might be of some help.
Written by Ryan Venson