What would you do for love? Would you kill? That's the essential question that is asked in the new Australian film, "The Square," and the film's answer may shock you. This is a brilliant film that uses the device of film noir but places it in a modern day, suburban, domestic setting. The acting and story telling is excellent while the direction is stripped down and tasteful. Writer and co-star Joel Edgerton is best known for his role as Owen Lars, stepbrother to Anakin and future uncle to Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones" and "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith." In fact, his real life brother, the film's director Nash, was Ewan McGregor's stunt double in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy. Both Joel, an actor turned writer and Nash, in his directorial debut show a lot of promise as filmmakers hers with this impressive, deep and fascinating film.
The film begins by quickly introducing us to Ray and Carla, two suburban people who are engaging in an affair with each other. Ray is a construction owner bored with his married life and Carla is a beautician who's grown tired of her marriage to a local thief. After Carla discovers a bag of money hidden in her house she hatches a dangerous plan, a way that she and Ray can leave there boring lives and be together ... steal the money. Ray of course is logical and won't agree to help Carla so she breaks off the affair with Ray. Ray and Carla are neighbors, living across the river from each other and their dogs are as in love with each other as much as Ray and Carla are. Carla's dog continues to swim across the river everyday to be with Ray's dog, which gives Ray an excuse to go to Carla's to return her dog. Ray decides that he can't live without Carla and agrees to help her steal the money.
They decide that it would be best to hire a third party, a hit man (played by Joel Edgerton), to set the house on fire while Carla and her husband are out and after Carla has taken the money, that way her husband will just think that it burned like everything else. However, the plan goes terribly wrong when Carla's Mother-in-law mistakenly falls asleep in the house and Ray is unable to call of the hit man. Now, responsible for a death Carla and Ray do everything they can to remain calm but when Ray receives a blackmail note extorting money for their silence he begins to become more and more paranoid. With the police, Carla's husband and others beginning to become suspicious of Ray, he begins to get wrapped up in his own lies and does one horrible thing after another to cover it up. Now, Ray must find the blackmailer and cover his tracks so that he and Carla can still run away together before it is too late and his acts of passion are discovered and the truth is revealed.
There is a fascinating sub-plot in the film featuring Carla and Ray's pets. The relationship between the two dogs foreshadowed the tragic relationship between Ray and Carla quite nicely. When Carla's dog drowns one day swimming across the lake to Ray's dog, it signifies the doomed relationship between the two humans and tells the audience that this may not turn out so well for Ray and Carla. I also liked that the film begins midway into their affair, which gets us right into the drama of the story rather than boring us watching the affair begin. The film is very much a fallback to film noir but in this case Ray is not a detective and the femme fatale is not out to get him, her intentions are true, which is a nice change of pace. The film would not work if you didn't believe in the love between Ray and Carla, and the actors certainly make you believe that that is real.
Australian actor David Roberts ("The Matrix Reloaded") commands the screen in the lead role as Ray. His performance grounds the film in a believable reality and you feel for this man's pain. While the character ends up doing some heinous things, you always sympathize with him because Roberts conveys a human quality that we can all relate too. He is especially good in the devastating wake of the film's conclusion. Claire van der Boom plays Carla with beauty and remorse and anyone can understand from her performance why Ray would consent to the things he did for her. It's a tough role to play because it's easy for the audience to hate Carla for what happens in the film but van der Boom's performance is so multi-layered and deep that we end up sympathizing with her character as well. In the end, "The Square," is a brilliant film, which is very well written by Joel Edgerton and extremely well directed by Nash Edgerton, who both exhibits a lot of promise in their new positions. This film is perfect for any fan of film noir or anyone interested in seeing a moving and touching film that will shock you with it's devastating conclusion.