January 06, 2011

MOVIES: The Square (Nash Edgerton, 2008/US 2010)

The Square is a nifty Australian neo-noir thriller, well worth checking out on DVD.

Ray is a middle-aged construction foreman, so battered down by life that he wears a perpetual disappointed frown, even when he's in the arms of his sexy young mistress, Carla. Carla and Ray dream of running off together one day, or at any rate, Carla dreams of it and Ray plays along to keep her happy.

Carla's husband is a second-rate thug who hides a large sack of money in the attic one day when he thinks no one's looking. It seems to Carla that this is just the opportunity that she and Ray have been looking for: Steal the money, hire someone to burn the house down so that Smithy won't be looking for the money, and live happily ever after. What could possibly go wrong?

Why, only everything, of course, and by the time the movie's over, we're reminded that a construction site is a dangerous place (especially on a rainy night), that the course of adulterous love never did run smooth, and that blackmailers have a tendency to pop up when you least expect them.

The actors, mostly not well known in the US, are solid throughout, but David Roberts is especially fine as Ray, a man powerless to do anything as the wheels of fate slowly grind away at him.

If the movie falls just short of the very best in the genre, it's because Roberts and Claire van der Boom, as Carla, don't have quite the sexual heat that you'd like to see. Still, it's terrific entertainment, well worth the time.

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