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Under Review: ‘The Square’

— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —

Greed is a powerful thing. It’s not surprising that greed runs people to various evils, including murder and deception. But what powers greed? It can be anything, but the most common instigator is money. Now, many films have been made about the topic but one that comes to mind right now is “No Country for Old Men,” a film that collected awards a couple years ago. Directed by the Coen brothers, the film follows a hunter who is being followed because he steals $2 million after stumbling upon a stack of dead bodies.

Nash Edgerton’s latest film, “The Square,” which was released recently, is quite similar to “No Country for Old Men.” However, instead of a hunter, the main character is an adulterous construction worker named Raymond Yale (played by David Roberts), and he doesn’t find any dead bodies but instead his mistress, Clara Smith (Claire van der Boom) offers the plot to steal money from her boyfriend, a low-level mobster. Determined to run off from a loveless marriage, Yale gets entangled in a web of lies, murder and, of course, passion. This may sound exciting, but I assure you, “The Square” is anything but.

Raymond Yale is a schmuck. It’s hard to care for a character that exerts no emotion towards his failing marriage and would rather commit adultery than talk to his wife and who has absolutely no respect for human life. Throughout the entire film, Yale murders several people and cold-heartedly covers up the crime (even though all of them were not intentional) in order to continue going down his road to selfishness and greed. It’s this sense of deprivation that makes for spine-tingling villains, not likable protagonists.

Clara Smith is an equally unlikable character. She has no independence in her and she simply conforms to the will of the two men with whom she is romantically involved. She shows no backbone, no passion and, ultimately, no guilt for the crimes she commits in order to ensure the money she steals is in a safe place. She obviously cares about her future, however; she doesn’t have the strength to see her goals through and instead allows Yale to do all the dirty work.

It’s a sad sight when the lead character’s canine companion turns out to have more personality than the female lead.

On top of the atrocious characterization, there are the implausible and unapologetically stupid plot-twists that plague the plot. Characters are killed because of illogical mishaps and it seems that screen-writers Joel Edgerton and Matthew Dabner use the at-first simple and easy to follow story and then try to convolute it into a complex “work of genius,” however, it just translates to “pure horror.”

A square is a mathematical shape. To unravel its secrets, one must be formulaic. However, director Nash Edgerton’s “The Square” does not follow the same pattern. Its far from mathematical story-line is ruined through miscalculations in the plot-twists which jump the shark multiple times and through the terribly unlikable characters which are played with the gusto of the gum sticking to the bottom of my shoe.

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Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMariusz.

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