Nash Edgerton’s The Square

August 8, 2008

Caught up with Nash Edgerton’s feature directorial debut and I was impressed. Written by Joel Edgerton and directed by Nash, you can see an Australian Coen’s brothers style combo developing. Indeed, the film itself displays some of the Coen brothers verve when they make crime films. The Square is like an Australian No Country for Old Men. A bag of cash that brings no good…

You got a sack of loot for a drug deal that belongs to Smithy (an excellent thug turn from Anthony Hayes). Smithy’s wife Claire is fucking local foreman Raymond, and tells him about the money and how they should run away together with it. Raymond has the bright idea of burning Claire and Smithy’s house down, to cover the fact that the money is gone. Raymond hires pyromaniac crook Billy (Joel Edgerton in fine crim form) accompanied by his teenage girlfriend Lily (Hanna Mangan Lawrence from Jon Hewitt’s Acolytes) to light the spark at Smithy’s pad. All looks like it will go swimmingly until news of Smithy’s Mom being at home reaches the two plotters at an appropriately innocuous picnic that they planned as their alibi. From then on shit hits the fan real ‘horrorshow’ in various interesting and exciting ways in a complex but believable story.

Cast are uniformly good. If I had to had to pick fault, I’d say, while David Roberts is good as the main character Yale, maybe a bigger star or someone a bit more charismatic, might have been better for this role? Joel Edgerton’s crim is a classic. A pyromaniac who likes to hold meetings in a Chinese restaurant and bang teenage pussy. His character adds a great sense of danger and excitement to the piece. So too Hayes’ Smithy. Hayes makes an excellent tough guy when he wants to be. Brendan Donoghue’s Leonard is also a stand out.

Nash Edgerton weaves a complex web of characters deftly and produces a very accomplished debut. It hasn’t set the local BO on fire, but if this the quality of work we make from now on in Australian cinema, it won’t be long until audiences catch on. Edgerton cleverly lets his tale of the fatal love and pursuit of Mammon slowly unwind. The emptiness and nihilism of suburban Australia is convincingly envisioned.

If asked to be a critical? I think the film could have been ‘younger’ and marketed in a more hip fashion. The brown ads with the plot of land (‘The Square’ of the title) that hides Leonard were OK. But maybe something akin to Suburban Mayhems ad campaign which was pretty tasty and looked great, might have worked better. Even the more post modern header above worked for me. I did dig the teaser trailer that featured all that slow motion burning and poetic cutting of key scenes from the film. Anyway, the films quality will ensure all who love Oz cinema will see it on DVD if they don’t get the word and make it to the cinema.

The Edgerton’s have created a great first collaboration that ticks all the right boxes; edgy genre, violent, sexy, brutal, well directed, well acted, subtextual depth and intelligence. Idea Fix says go see it!

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