It's time for some film noir with The Square, an Australian film where bad plans go very, very badly for all involved.

Ray Yale (David Roberts) is the foreman for a leisure resort (the movie's title square), working hard (and taking kickbacks for influence in his work).  He's also having a passionate affair with Carla Smith (Claire van de Boom), his neighbor across the river.  However, they both have commitments to other people: Ray is in a mundane middle-class marriage, while Carla is involved with Greg "Smithy" Smith (Anthony Hayes), a criminal who hangs around with a rough crowd.  Carla wants Ray to leave his wife and have them run away together, but Ray is concerned about the money they'd need to start a new life together.

When Carla finds a bag full of cash, she and Ray come up with what they think is a perfect plan: Carla will take the money, then Ray will have arsonist Billy (Joel Edgerton) set fire to Smithy's house, Smithy will think the money burned up in the fire, Ray and Carla will be beyond suspicion, and the lovers can run away together, flush with money -- and no one will get hurt.
Of course the plan goes awry, from Ray's failed attempt to cancel the plan to several unexpected consequences.  Before you can say "bad idea" Ray is receiving blackmail cards, Carla starts getting paranoid about who knows about her affair and their plan, and Billy is pissed off that he's in far deeper than he planned.  Then Smithy finds the bag his money was in...
The Square is simple and effective.  While there's not a lot of character development here, the actors are effective and the story spirals nicely out of control.  The Square works nicely as a suspenseful drama where absolutely nothing is as simple as it seems.  (There are plenty of dvd extras, from behind-the-scenes and making-of features to the short black comedy film "The Spider.")

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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