Australian brothers Joel and Nash Edgerton are onto something huge and after garnering much success back home with their feature film The Square, they are now bringing the film stateside. The buzz is building rapidly for the film and their brand of Film Noir is drawing many comparisons to another notable filmmaker sibling duo, The Coen Brothers. In the case of The Edgerton Brothers, Joel wears the Actor/Writer's Cap and he has had the distinction of appearing opposite Oscar winner Cate Blanchett at Sydney Theatre in a 2009 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. You might also recall him from major releases like Smokin' Aces and Kinky Boots. Nash, a professional Stunt Man by trade, prefers to wear the Director's Cap and together, the siblings create magic.
The Square revolves around Raymond (The Matrix's David Roberts) and Carla (Claire van der Boom), who are involved in a passionate love affair. Raymond is married to committed wife Martha (Lucy Bell), while Claire is partnered with crooked Greg, who at the beginning of the film scores a large sum of cash which he stashes away secretly in his attic, thinking Carla is unaware of its existence. Despite some hesitation, Raymond and Carla decide to escape together after she presents him with a large amount of cash. They plot to take the remainder of the funds which her boyfriend had acquired and begin a new life. Straight forward, right? Not so fast.
Billy (Joel Edgerton) is hired to set Carla and Greg's house on fire, making it seem as though the money had been destroyed in the fire when in fact she had stolen it from her boyfriend. Things take a dramatic turn for the worse though when Greg's mother decides unexpectedly to visit and Billy, unaware of her presence, proceeds to burn the house down according to plan despite Raymond's last minute plea to ix-nay the strategy. Matters get even more complicated as Raymond gets blackmailed with his affair with Carla becoming known. From here the love affair between them fades to the background as the characters each get caught up in a web of destruction that spins out of control.
This film is never without a moment of suspense. It gives you that feeling of unease which you continue only to yearn for more of, through the entire duration of the film. The foreshadowing is plentiful with many an indication that things will continue to get worse just when you feel that matters have reached the lowest possible point. The story becomes a comedy of errors after a while, but thanks to skillful writing by Joel Edgerton, the story is plausible and we too get caught in the moral struggles that these characters face. For example, when Raymond's survival and safety are threatened, we are inclined to want him to do "the wrong thing" for his own good and this is a good indication that a character has been properly developed.
I walked into this film with no expectations whatsoever and came out enthralled. The Square, released through Alliance Films in Canada and Apparition in the U.S., is now in limited release. Grade: A
As an aside, Joel Edgerton attended my screening of the film this evening as he is currently filming a prequel to horror classic The Thing here in Toronto. He fielded questions graciously from the audience and when I asked him about release plans for the film, he explained that The Square continues to garner much warm critical reception with screenings in key markets having gone over very well. For example, just this past weekend, it garnered a higher per theatre average than one of the weekend's Box Office front-runners, Date Night. The decidedly low-key Actor/Screenwriter kindly posed for a photo with me after the Q&A. Cute.