Directed by Nash Edgerton
A gripping—if nothing else—neo-neo-noir, The Square offers no fresh insights into genre or humanity. But what’s wrong with just spinning a good yarn once in a while? The debut feature of recently Times-profiled Blue-Tongue Productions, a loosely knit, Australia-based moviemaking-collective, the film offers N.Y. audiences their first chance to see Joel Edgerton (who also co-wrote the script, with Matthew Dabner) since he yowled for Stella in BAM’s Streetcar last December. He and the rest of the cast work to humanize familiar archetypes: the graying hangdog, the irascible cuckold, the spacey girlfriend, the femme fatale. Everything about The Square feels, ostensibly, as familiar as those characters: following a Postman-esque narrative, it depicts an affair between Ray (David Roberts) and Carla (Claire van der Boom), who struggle to raise cash illicitly so they can run away together. But Best Laid Plans etc. etc. etc. It hits the noir’s standard plot points, features the usual motifs (shady poker pals, duffels full of cash), explores the classic themes (the things we do for lust, how chance begets tragedy), and revisits the typical moralism (adultery, a gateway sin, leads to arson, murder and traffic accidents). But director Nash Edgerton, Joel’s brother, keeps the tightly plotted drama moving smoothly, obscuring the clichés with a restrained style that his stuntman background wouldn’t lead you to expect. The Square might not reinvent the crime picture, but its precision of form and performance makes it an encouraging introduction to a whole company’s worth of talent.
Opens April 9