Behind this, rather generic title hides an excellent neo-noir thriller you probably never heard of. The Square 2008 is an Australian movie written by Joel Edgerton and directed by his brother Nash. Joel spent whopping eight years perfecting the script until he turned it into this killing machine. The story grips you from minute one with its raw realism and familiarity. We will follow two secret lovers who want to escape their monotonous marriages and run away together. However, life simply doesn’t work that way. Featuring an ominous atmosphere and deliberate pacing, The Square is one of those movies the less you know about the better.
The cast was fucking brilliant, led by David Roberts who gave one hell of a performance. It was subtle, relatable, and just so fucking realistic. Opposite of him, we have beautiful Claire van der Boom and the man who wrote the whole thing, Joel. However, for me at least, Hanna Mangan Lawrence as Lily stole the show here. She had a rather small role as Joel’s sister but she absolutely nailed it. As with every neo-noir movie, there are no good or bad guys/girls here. Just people trying to get by.
The story takes place in a small, rural town in the middle of Australia. This means we won’t be enjoying the beautiful coastal landscapes but the grim reality of life outside the big cities. And the hustle is the same no matter where you live. There are several interesting subplots in The Square. Some of them feel a bit underdeveloped but they still contribute to an overall sense of an engaging storyline. Something that the Coen brothers do so well, especially in their movies Blood Simple and A Simple Plan.
We find Ray and Carla passionately making love in a car far away from the prying eyes of their little community. And far away from their spouses as both of them are stuck in marriages they don’t like. So, they hatch a plan to run away together. Ray, an older businessman will get the money through his next development project. However, everything changes one day when Carla accidentally sees something she shouldn’t have seen. Something that’s going to change her life forever.
If you love movies where one bad decision leads to the next bad decision, you’re going to love The Square. The way the story just keeps escalating and escalating is thoroughly gripping. And it counters the somewhat grim atmosphere. As I mentioned previously, all the characters are flawed so you’re not sure who to root for. Or should your root for anyone at all? This leaves you open to following the bizarre story full of twists without almost becoming emotionally invested.
Although I did find our lovers rather cute. So, if you’re tired of watching the same neo-noir movies over and over again, it’s time to try something different. Something from the land down under. If you’re looking for movies like The Square check out The Dry, Gettin Square, Two Hands, and The Mule. Apart from the first one, all of these Australian thrillers have this humorous undernote. And while there’s some black humor in the movie we talked about today, it’s not as overtly funny as these ones are.
Director: Nash Edgerton
Writers: Joel Edgerton, Matthew Dabner
Cast: David Roberts, Claire van der Boom, Joel Edgerton, Anthony Hayes, Damon Herriman
Fun Facts: Although the movie premiered in Australia in 2008, it was released in North America two years later, in 2010.