Film noir is a tricky genre to sit down and analyze. Back in the day, noir had a fairly formulaic outlining; a certain way that a movie of the type would play out. In today’s day and age though, noir has shifted. From once being about femme fatales and kingpins of crime, the focus now lies in many interweaving story points coming together when you least expect. Then again, crime noir has become a subdivision in its own right.
Nash Edgerton’s The Square is a fairly cleverly written story about a man whose life starts falling apart after his mistress brings him a large amount of stolen money, asking to runaway with him. Starting off as a simple ‘grab the money and run’ plot, the movie quickly changes its mood, as little by little, chaos starts unfolding in the lives of the central characters. Albeit, much of the trouble that these people face are of their own making.
I found siding with the protagonist of the film to be slightly difficult, because he, like most everyone else in the movie, is guilty of something. In this case, cheating on his wife and planning to make a run for it with the younger woman he sees on the side. That said, he’s also probably one of the better people of the movie. Almost everyone else seems to have their separate agendas and are involved in shady business of differing kinds.
The Square is not a difficult movie to follow, which is how a noir movie SHOULD be, without all the twists and turns that leave you second-guessing yourself after the credits have rolled smoothly along the screen. Yet what does make it a captivating viewing session is the suspense. Sure, there are lots of suspenseful movies out there, and not just of the don’t-open-the-door-or-else-he’ll-get-you variety. You’re left guessing whether or not the main characters are going to get away with their plan along with whether they should be allowed to. By the time everything is said and done, there’s a great deal of moral ambiguity that must be dealt with. Murders and crimes are committed, loves are betrayed, and those held responsible are not fully convinced of their own wrongdoing in such matters.
The Square has multiple moments that are simply brilliant and well within the noir style. To reveal these instances would take away part of the movie’s overall charm. Additionally, I found the ending to be one of the more mind-blowing endings to a film that I’ve seen recently, with everything finally being brought together in a random, yet extremely coherent and carefully worked out finish. Even though The Square is not one of my favorite films, and doesn’t carry the resonance of something like The Secret in Their Eyes, it’s still a wonderful piece of cinema that deserves to be viewed at some point in your movie-viewing career.