Watching The Square is like watching a complicated puzzle being assembled. Each piece placed is dependent on the preceding piece, and all the pieces must be in place if the entire picture is to be seen.
An Australian neo-film-noir, The Square starts off simply. A married man’s mistress (Carla, played by Claire van de Boom), also married, finds a load of loot in her attic (which her husband had squirreled away), and wants him to rob her house, take the loot, and the two of them can run away together. They decide to have her house burned down to hide the fact that the stash was stolen.
Too many people become involved in the plot, a missed connection results in the death of an innocent woman, and suddenly the perfect caper becomes the worst nightmare. One death leads to another as Ray (David Roberts) tries to cover his tracks, which have been cleverly uncovered by a blackmailer who is demanding a large sum of cash. When Ray doesn’t deliver, the demand gets higher.
In true film noir style, there is an odd bit of business with a dog that swims across a canal (or bay) from Carla’s house to Ray’s, apparently infatuated with Ray’s dog (the feeling seems mutual). It’s like the scene in Body Heat in which a clown in full make-up and costume drives down the street. I’ve always wondered, what’s that about? In The Square, the dog lovers portend the fate of the human lovers.
Because Ray’s actions put in motion events that lead to the old woman’s death, he feels he must pay the blackmailer. One “accidental” death leads to another, and then another. At one point I was provoked to laughter because it didn’t seem possible that so many awful things could happen to one man. The Square’s tone got me past the giggles right quick.