Like pulling wings off flies, ‘The Square’ weaves together familiar noir themes with perfect execution.
“The Square” is a terrific film noir with an Aussie twist. Like all good noirs, it has an almost comic appreciation for how the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. No matter how bad things get, they can always get worse. I watched the film in a state of rapt enjoyment.
There’s a special pleasure in watching the familiar tropes of noir transferred to an “exotic” locale, whether it be the recent Korean film “Mother” or, going back much further, Luchino Visconti’s “Ossessione,” which essentially borrowed the plot of James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” The brainchild of stuntman-turned-first-time-director Nash Edgerton, “The Square” is so promiscuous in its lifts, from Cain and Chandler and everything in between, that the price of admission should include a handy reference guide. But this pileup of borrowings is part of the film’s appeal; we’re encouraged to recognize how cleverly Edgerton has made them his own.
In a sense, noir plots are as rigorously codified as, say, haiku. Originality isn’t essential; execution is all. In “The Square,” we have as its centerpiece a classic noir Everyman – or I should say, Everydupe. Raymond (David Roberts) is a married construction supervisor in suburban Sydney who is carrying on with his married, and much younger, hairdresser neighbor Carla (Claire van der Boom). Raymond keeps promising to leave his wife for her, and when Carla notices that her bullyboy husband, “Smithy” (Anthony Hayes), has stashed a wad of ill-gained loot in the attic, she tips off Raymond and presses him to take her, and the cash, far away.