Apr 15, 2010

The Square

A modern noir from Australia by director Nash Edgerton (is this a noirish name, or what? The guy is a former stuntman), this tight little film is very entertaining. The premise is classic. A couple of lovers. He is older and better off, she is younger and living with a mulleted boyfriend, which telegraphs unhappiness better than anything I can think of. She is a very interesting femme fatale. Looks almost innocent and you can't help but root for her since the boyfriend and his buddies all wear mullets and tattoos and are way too gauche to endure. She is striving up from owning a measly beauty salon to shagging an engineer. We're not talking billionaires here. She finds a bag of ill-gotten money and convinces her lover to hatch a plan to take the money and run. He's a decent man, but he is totally pussywhipped. The fun is in the casual, perfectly natural way in which the plan gets horribly screwed, and in the surprising way in which tangential people get sucked into the vortex of bad, the body count growing, all because, as a character says in the best line in the film, "a man points his dick in the wrong direction, and here we are".
Film noir expects us to believe in the existence of mysterious bags of money and the people who think they can breezily steal them. You can't approach film noir with a magnifying glass of pristine logic. Noir is about incontrollable human impulses, usually of the worst kind. If you surrender yourself to the pleasures of the genre, you are going to have a great time with this film. It dots its i's and crosses it's t's pretty cleanly. Unlike other movies of the genre, that become harder to believe as they progress, this one sets up the plot very cleverly and creates very clear and believable motivation arcs for the characters, even though as with any noir, characters are not there to be a mirror into human psychology, (except of the most basic kind: lust, greed, fear and revenge). They're there to zip the intricate plot along. The Square is a very enjoyable puzzle that bears more scrutiny than other films of its genre but not too much. If you think about it too hard, it can become preposterous, but it's still oodles of fun.
The film is preceded by a fabulous short film by the same director. A stunning little jewel of very dark comedy.

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