Review: The Square

Review: The Square

When someone in a film is scheming to escape, it’s easy to guess the plan will go awry; but it shouldn’t be as simple to predict the specifics. Escaping the monotony of a loveless marriage, Raymond Yale (David Roberts) has an affair with the beautiful and troubled Carla (Claire van der Boom). Ray’s moral limits […]

David Roberts in The Square (photo courtesy of Alliance Films)

When someone in a film is scheming to escape, it’s easy to guess the plan will go awry; but it shouldn’t be as simple to predict the specifics.

Escaping the monotony of a loveless marriage, Raymond Yale (David Roberts) has an affair with the beautiful and troubled Carla (Claire van der Boom). Ray’s moral limits are tested when Carla suggests they use the proceeds from her husband’s (Joel Edgerton) latest crime to runaway and start anew. Fearing he will lose his love, Ray engineers a plan. However, hiring a professional arsonist becomes a fatal error, but no one appears to suspect. Then the first blackmail note arrives. The couple’s nerves are tested as both Carla’s husband and the mystery author threaten to throw open their secret, forcing them to decide just how far they are willing to go for love.

The Australian mystery thriller is bleak, both in appearance and emotion. The colours look washed out and the characters are perpetually drained. They are obviously experiencing deep, intense emotions, but they are rarely enough to truly ignite them. Though the mood is accurate, the evenness of the emotions makes it difficult to engage; it’s not until the latter half of the film that things begin to pick up.

The story follows predictable plot points of a mystery film noir: the initial scheme doesn’t go according to plan; there’s someone that knows your secret; innocent people become collateral damage to your happiness; and situations involving guns never end well. Furthermore, there are even accidents to alert viewers to the fact things are about to take a turn for the worse.

The acting is solid as is the directing. Though the story itself is weak in some places, the players are top notch. Their fear appears genuine as does their individual determination to accomplish their goals. The film’s aesthetic under Nash Edgerton is fitting to the doomed characters and story, though there are no scenes that significantly stand above the rest.

The Square is a very well made film, but it is nonetheless lacking in some fundamental areas.