The Square 2008 ★★★

Second film of the Letterboxd Festival

Australian neo-noirs are not all that common, and the only other one that I can remember was the excellent but almost completely forgotten mid-90s film Kiss Or Kill. In fact, Australian cinema has more recently become better known for its burgeoning horror scene but The Square was just about good enough to suggest there could be some more potential depth to the Aussie film scene. But only just.

This story, about an adulterous pair who hatch a scheme to steal her husband's ill-gotten gains which predictably goes wrong, has enough confidence to it to slowly and fairly intricately plot its way into a second half where the violence levels predictable rise, as do the number of twists.

It has its problems, though. No back-story is provided at all to how the two met, which might have made us slightly warmer towards them, plus their relationship is lacking in the passion and heat that you would expect in a film like this to make the desperation of the characters involved seem more realistic. It's also rather held back by a rather dour performance from David Roberts in the lead, with the talented Claire van der Boom also struggling slightly with a slightly thankless role.

The support cast, though, is very good indeed and they do help to keep things fairly interesting in the background but once again even they have to put up with some fairly predictable twists. It does also seem to try and over-compensate for a lack of real bite in the relationship between the two leads by throwing in a few too many teasers in the subplots, several of which are left unanswered.

Despite its flaws, and a bewildering but almost brilliant last 10 minutes, it's still fairly engaging throughout but just lacking a spark that could easily have made it very good indeed. What's with all the bloody mullets as well?!

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