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The Square




Just before the first showing of his first film “The Square,” Australian director Nash Edgerton has all the confidence in the world.

It’s hard to believe he is a stuntman-turned-director who is releasing his first feature film.

He worked on stunts for films such as “The Matrix Reloaded,” “The Matrix Revolutions” and the “Star Wars” prequels, but “The Square” borrows little from these blockbusters. Instead, it takes the conventions of classic film noir and updates them for the 21st century.

The film was written by Edgerton’s brother, Joel. “My brother has always been fascinated by these small crime stories buried in the newspaper,” Edgerton said in a phone interview. “He always thinks there’s something more to the story than what you read about in the paper.”

Although Edgerton doesn’t exactly hold the same fascination, he was completely taken by the twisty script his brother presented to him.

The film tells the story of construction worker Ray Yale (Dave Roberts). Ray is married but gets involved with a younger woman, Carla (Claire van der Boom), who’s also married. The two long to run away and start a life together, but they don’t have the means to live comfortably.

One day at home, Carla sees her small-time criminal husband (Anthony Hayes) hiding a bag full of money. She tells Ray, who is reluctant at first, to take it, but he is eventually persuaded by Carla. So they hatch a plan: Steal the money, hire someone to burn down the house and abscond together. But when someone dies, the plan unravels, and Ray desperately tries to cover his tracks.

This is the kind of film in which you think you know exactly what’s going to happen. You’ve seen crime films before – you know things are going to go awry. But credit both the writer and director for always keeping you on your toes and making the material seem fresh.

The film opens with a short film by the director called “Spider.” You’ve probably heard of dark humor. You might think you’ve seen some really dark humor in movies before, but whatever film that is, it doesn’t compare to “Spider.”

“Yeah, ‘Spider,'” Edgerton said with a laugh. “I love watching that with an audience and seeing them jump and squirm in their seats. That’s why we put it in front of ‘The Square.’ It really settles them in for what they should expect.”

“The Square” will have you squirming too, although it doesn’t have the same punctuated moments of twisted irony as “Spider.”

You get involved in Ray’s world. Though he’s not the most charismatic hero in recent cinema, you still feel connected to him. The setting is claustrophobic and gives you the sense of being trapped with him. As things get worse for him and Carla, you feel more and more uncomfortable.

Edgerton said it took a lot of work to make this film. Because of the dark nature of the plot, it needed some revisions from its original script, and because the Australian film industry is not dominated by studios as it is in America, the film needed to be made independently.

But, it all paid off. The film was nominated for seven Australian Film Institute Awards and has received tremendous critical acclaim so far.

“It’s amazing that people have been so receptive,” Edgerton said.

He doesn’t know where this film will take his career next, but Edgerton knows he’s not done doing what he loves. “My brother and I are working on a script right now,” he said. “It’s going to be somewhat different, but we definitely won’t get too far away from the dark humor and crime that we love.”

Nor should they. “The Square” proves he is a skilled filmmaker and someone to keep a keen eye on in the future.

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