Monday, July 12, 2010

The Square

The Square screens this Tuesday at 7pm at the Toronto Underground Cinema for one final showing.

Well that was not what I was expecting. I can honestly say that I saw none of that coming.

You know how sometimes when you walk into a movie that you don't know anything about, that you tend to watch the film with a sort of trepidation that tends to overshadow the film itself? The Square is an exception to that rule. Mostly because it was so good that it erased any sense of trepidation I had towards the film. Within 10 minutes I was hopelessly roped in by the film and it never let go of me for a second. Yes, that is a pretty cheesy and cliche line to use, but since I can't stop thinking about how good The Square is on its own terms, I can't think of a better blurb than that.

All I knew about the film was that it was an Australian film noir. Most of my trepidation came from not knowing just what to think of that. Plus, I have been scarred by years of Tarantino knock offs, and only now are the wounds beginning to heal. By all ignorant accounts, The Square should have failed miserably with me.

But this is a seriously great film. One of the best I have seen all year.



Raymond Yale (David Roberts) is a construction foreman with a lot on his mind. His boss is an asshole, he is taking bribes in exchange for awarding work contracts, and he is cheating on his wife with Carla (Claire van der Bloom) who desperately wants Ray to leave his mousy wife and disappear with him.

Carla is in turn cheating on her significant other who has somehow come home with a broken hand and a bag full of cash. Carla sees this as her and Ray's ticket out of their small town, but Ray is apprehensive at first before coming up with a scheme involving an arsonist (played by co-screenwriter Joel Edgerton) that goes terribly wrong. And as is usually the case in these films, things get far worse as they go along. So wrong, in fact, that the film has a bit of a horror movie feel to it at times. Anyone can die at pretty much any time.

The Edgerton brothers (Director Nash and writer/actor Joel) have created a really tight film that doesn't waste any time or a single breath. It is the perfect length (105 minutes) for a film of this nature. It isn't overly complex and by the end, the whole thing makes perfect sense. Every piece of the puzzle fits together in a logical fashion despite throwing a lot of plot twists at the audience. If you are patient, you can rest assured that this is a film that in terms of plotting leaves no stone unturned, but by the end still allows you to draw your own conclusions.

This is a film that is so rarely made these days. It is an adult film, dealing with adult issues, without resorting to action movie theatrics or tough guy posturing. It is also lovingly devoid of any sub-plot involving computers. If I had to see another neo-noir involving any sort of technobabble I would probably scream. The Square is an old school throwback with a modern feel. And it is also a great fucking movie.

Recommended if you like: The Big Sleep, The Squeeze, Fargo (or any Coen Brothers, really)

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