Nash Edgerton and his brother Joel Edgerton are good filmmakers with potential of being great someday. Nash directed while Joel wrote and co-starred in The Square, their film noir thriller. It, like its predecessor, the short film Spider, is structured like a series of falling dominoes where someone's plot doesn't go as planned and creates subsequent situations that get progressively worse.
In fact, if you watch the two Australian films closely, you'll see Nash who stars in Spider makes a cameo in The Square with a very obvious eye-patch. The Edgerton brothers add this cameo as a treat to observant film-goers, as they are observant filmmakers who have already drawn comparisons to the Coen brothers.
Like Fargo and No Country for Old Men, this film centers around a man who comes up with a crime that he hopes will get him money as well as escape from a trapped situation in a small or relatively small town. And, like a Coen drama, a lot of blood and bodies are spilled in the execution and fallout of that man's "escape."
The man in this case is Ray Vale, played by David Roberts. He's the manager of a construction site that's building a residential square. Ray is married but is having an affair with Carla, the girlfriend of a drug dealer and/or gangster named Smithy. Ray and Carla are able to sneak away for the occasional sexual encounter late at night but want to be together in an non-secretive way but can't. They can't, that is, until one day an opportunity arises.
The opportunity involves a lot of money and the secret hope of stealing it. Needless to say, once the opportunity is seized, everything goes downhill. It's the cinematic equivalent to quicksand where the more Ray struggles the further he sinks.
I have to say that it's all well-written, well-acted, and very well-directed with Edgerton pulling off some great emotionally tense sequences, including one involving a fire on a warm, Christmas night.
My only criticism is that it's too much like quicksand. Once I realized the rhythm of this ride, every beat became predictable. Not to give anything away, but there's a scene where someone misses a phone call, and not only did I anticipate the missed call but also various events that followed almost like clockwork.
While it all worked, it tried to be darker and even more tragic than the Coen's darkest film. Yet, nothing really made it standout. It practically plays out by the numbers. It's at times mysterious and thrilling, but nothing special.