There’s nothing more morbidly
fascinating and oddly funny than watching someone’s life completely
fall apart. Just ask the Coen Brothers- they’ve built a career on
schadenfreude. Some of the best films ever made have revolved around a
protagonist’s scheme utterly failing, whether it’s due to stupidity or
just plain bad luck.

Enter The Square, the latest in a long line of
darkly humorous neo-noir films. It comes to us from Australia and is
easily one of the most well-crafted thrillers you’ve seen in years,
offering viewers a chance to cringe for eighty minutes as they watch
people
frantically try to escape the hell they’ve created.

As
the film starts we meet Ray and Carla, an adulterous couple who have
found each other in an attempt to escape their loveless marriages. Ray’s
a bit older than Carla and more grounded, but his promise of running
off with her has made her dream of nothing else. It’s all simply pillow
talk until one day when Carla’s husband comes home with a bag stuffed
with tens of thousands of dollars. Her husband’s a tow truck driver, so
she has no idea where he got the money from, and he doesn’t know that
she knows about the money. Carla decides to tell Ray about it and they
scheme to steal it without getting caught to start a new life together,
covering their tracks by hiring an arsonist to torch the house.

As
you might imagine, when houses burn down and large amounts of money get
stolen bad things happen. We follow Ray as he gets caught up in
increasingly horrible situations, lying on top of lies and becoming more
and more of a shell of his former self to weasel his way out of his
situation.

It
would be wrong to reveal any more of the shocking story than that.

The Square‘s
the kind of film that hits all notes perfectly. It’s beautifully shot
and has a fantastic, moody soundtrack that fits perfectly with the noir
themes. The characters are completely believable (despite the abundance
of mullets) and so are their motivations, as they make horrible choices out of fear or misguided love rather than simply trying to set up the next plot point. We see the worst side of human
nature
here.
 
While
it’s incredibly tense and filled with dark and bloody subject matter
it’s equally funny at parts. It’s not funny because the characters are
unsympathetic- far from it. But if you’ve got a morbid sense of humor
you just can’t help but shake your head and laugh at how they got
themselves into this situation. It’s why the film has rightfully been
compared to the work of the aforementioned brothers Coen, and feels like it would almost fit in just fine with their filmography.

It
makes for a tense and exciting ride, one with an incredibly satisfying
ending. This is director Nash Edgerton’s first feature film from a
script by his brother Joel (who is excellent in the film as Billy, the
arsonist), and it’s exciting to think about what these guys have planned
for the future.
 

9.0 out of 10




The Square hits
theaters in NYC and LA today and will be preceded by Nash Edgerton’s
short Spider.
Keep an eye out in The Square for
a cameo of sorts from the short…