Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Catching Up With 2010: Capsule Review – The Square

The Square is one of the best, most cruelly ironic neo-noirs since Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan. I love the restraint from the filmmakers where we hear things rather than see them, or how they simply let every ironic, violent, and cruel situation unfold without rushing through a single moment. It's rare to find a neo-noir these days that takes so much pleasure in the slow-burn downward spiral of its characters. The Square reminded me more of A Simple Plan than it did Blood Simple (the one movie everyone seems to be likening it to). In Sam Raimi's brilliant film it was blanket-clenching tension from beginning to end because we liked the main character (how could you not like Bill Paxton?) just enough (flaws and all…but what human doesn't have them) that we really did hope he got himself out of every impossible (and implausible) situation he found himself in. The price he pays at the end for putting the people he loves through hell seems fare in the eyes of fate. So too does it turn out the way for the characters in The Square. The two main characters – Carla (Claire van der Boom) and Raymond (David Roberts) – seem like nice enough people, and it is because of the actors and how they portray the characters' situation that we feel somewhat sorry for them by film's end. They're stuck in go-nowhere marriages and have been meeting for trysts for awhile; however, when the question of some ill-begotten money enters the equation, it throws their whole affair into a tailspin of misfortune and murder (when doesn't money do that in these types of films). This is a crucial element to any noir: that we simultaneously empathize with the characters' plight and understand that, yes, even if their situation seems cruel, they deserve their comeuppance. Classic noir is the great moral equalizer, and the filmmakers of The Square – brothers Nash (director) and Joel (co-star/co-writer) Edgerton – understand this and execute it better than most who try their hand at neo-noir. The Square is a great film with some moments that conjure up some of my favorite from neo-noir films (the spotty job of burying a body being my favorite). There's been a renaissance lately with Australian genre films, and The Square sits near the top of the very best examples of why people should be taking notice of the films coming to American from The Land of Oz.


  1. recently i have big problem which is typical of all of us ! what should do and how to go on living, I can not understood ((I stopped smiling at ALL!!!! :( yes!!,i have bad looking teeth because of heredity ... why I? Teeth is the first thing you see when talk anybody,or doing something like this, I have found a solution in putting lumineers ! and i can say it has guaranteed 100% result,i will advice that its a good decision

  2. This sounds great - I loved A Simple Plan! And I hadn't heard of this before so thanks for the review.

  3. Watched The Square last night, and I wanted to thank you for posting on it b/c I absolutely *loved* it. Grueling and merciless; "downward spiral" almost doesn't do justice. Great naturalistic performances made the characters real people and not seasoned pro criminals. The whole bit with the Christmas program and the firemen was absolutely chilling.