By Sandra Kraisirideja
“The Square” is a movie that cannot be condensed down to a simple, Hollywood narrative, which is not a bad thing, but it makes writing a review that much harder. Discussing elements of the story would also give away the movie’s surprises leaving not much to say in terms of what “The Square” is about except that it is a dramatic mystery with plenty of twists and turns where the protagonists and antagonists fluctuate in nearly every scene.
Directed by Nash Edgerton from a script by his brother, Joel (who also has a supporting role in the movie), “The Square” is set in present-day Australia. The Edgerton’s have been making movies together since they were kids and have said the Cohen brothers’ movies are a big influence on them.
“The Square” definitely has a Cohen brothers’ feel, especially with regard to the evolution of the main character, played by David Roberts. Roberts plays Raymond Yale, a construction foreman who is having an affair with his neighbor, Carla, played by Claire van der Boom.
Raymond is mild-mannered and inconspicuous. Even the affair he’s having is uneventful, until he makes a decision that changes everything in his predictable life. This is a theme in many Cohen brothers movies including “The Big Lewbowski,” “Fargo” and “Barton Fink.” And just like the Cohen brothers, the Edgertons do not shy away from violence and it’s filmed in the same matter-of-fact way.
There’s a terrific short film before the movie directed by Nash Edgerton titled, “The Spider,” which encapsulates the director’s approach to storytelling. The result can only be described as sick, twisted humor that is not easily forgotten. There’s even a clever nod to the short in “The Square,” which will be caught by those paying attention.
It’s one thing to emulate the Cohen’s style and it’s something else to improve upon it. The Edgertons certainly have something to offer–which was especially visible during a car chase scene filmed with great energy and camera movement—but the pace of “The Square” needed to be faster. The editing is not as crisp and the characters are not as tightly written as a Cohen brothers’ picture. The Edgertons should continue to work together as their work is likely to only get better the more they do.