Monday, September 13, 2010


Without question, The Square is the best thriller I've seen in 2010. Tautly directed by newcomer Nash Edgerton (his brother Joel is one of the main characters and co-wrote the brilliantly layered screenplay), this Australian neo-noir sits atop of the genre pack with titles such as Red Rock West, The Last Seduction, Blood Simple, and Bound -- it's a damn near flawless piece of screw-tightening and filmmaking. There is a confidence to this film that I found highly engrossing; right from the start I knew I was in the hands of a filmmaker who knew exactly what he wanted. With twists coming left and right and all the way up until the end, The Square requires your attention, for which you'll be handsomely rewarded.

Spoiling any of The Square's surprises would be criminal. The gist is this: unhappily married Raymond (the gruff David Roberts) is carrying on with beautiful young mistress Carla (Claire van der Boom) who is stealing from her mullet-sporting, low-life boy-friend Billy (Edgerton). When a plan to rob Billy goes haywire and unexpected deaths ensue, all hell breaks loose. Plus, Raymond is dealing with shady contractors at his construction site who may or may not know what Raymond's been up too with Carla. Mysterious notes are sent, people are followed, chased, and killed, and more than one person gets shot. Nobody is safe in The Square. Not even the family pet. All of this is done with expert style and with a minimum of logic lapses and inconsistencies. And across the board, the acting is excellent, with Roberts and Boom registering strongly as two people who never should have met, let alone fall in love.

Mixing a De Palma-esque voyeuristic shooting style (be on the lookout for some amazing stedicam work) with gritty, hand-held realism, Edgerton ramps up the suspense in one scene after another. This is a genuinely unpredictable film that only the smartest genre enthusiasts will be able to guess before the end credits start rolling. Because there is so much plot in The Square the film could have easily felt bogged down in exposition, so it's a testament to Edgerton's writing and directing skills that the narrative never grinds to a halt. The film's brisk pace compliments the ruthlessness of the action scenes. The Square felt like an early Coen brothers film to me -- a movie totally in command of its story and style, made by people who love the genre they're working in and who want to wow people with a good old fashioned crime thriller. I love films like this.

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