After so many movies that move at a break-neck pace all the way up to their conclusion it's nice to see a thriller that has more of a slow burn effect. 'The Square,' set in Australia, evolves slowly, leading us through the life of Ray (David Roberts, 'Ghost Rider') who is having an affair with a woman in his neighborhood named Carla.
Ray runs a construction business and is overseeing a site where his team is about to pour a giant square of cement. Carla is married to Greg who never seems quite right. One day Carla comes in to find Greg stashing a bag full of money and a bloody shirt. Carla snoops around and finds out where Greg stashed the bag. Like most people in movies who are around bags of money, Carla can't help herself, and schemes with Ray to steal it so they can runaway together.
Ray is a tortured character, pulled in different directions by his wife, his job, and a headstrong mistress. After Ray and Carla agree to steal the money, things go wrong, quickly.
You know what they say, "The best laid plans…" It's as if characters like Ray are doomed to a life where nothing ever goes their way. His wife is distant, his girlfriend wants him to steal for her, and his boss is breathing down his neck. Against Ray's better judgment he hires an arsonist to burn down Carla's house to mask the fact that they stole the money. When the house burns down with someone in it, things change. This is no longer a simple grab and dash job. Ray wasn't ready to become a murderer.
Robert's portrayal of the conflicted Ray is equal parts heart-wrenching and gut-twisting. As the events of 'The Square' soon start spiraling out of control, Ray finds himself trapped in a web of deceit that he can't untangle himself from. Like watching a moth try to escape the light fixture it so readily flew into, watching Ray flounder about is hard. Like the moth, Ray was attracted by something that he couldn't resist. For the moth it's a bright light, for Ray it's an attractive woman who cares about him. He'll do anything for his love, even if it's something completely against his nature.
That's what is most rewarding about 'The Square.' Watching people put into situations that they would never have believed they would find themselves in. Decisions have consequences and the consequences of Ray's action become more dire as the movie progresses.
This isn't your typical 100 minute, tightly-wound thriller. 'The Square' is a character piece wrapped inside a thriller. What will people do when they're confronted with problems they have no way of escaping? Ray is a heart-breaking character. We really feel for the guy. In the end however, he's chosen his path and now we get to watch what happens when everything comes together, and in Ray's case it isn't going to be pretty.
Sony's 1080p high-def transfer of 'The Square' comes complete with the AVC encode. The Blu-ray rarely gives off that distinctive high definition look of striking fine detail and clear-cut shadows. Brad Shield's ('Where the Wild Things Are') stark cinematography isn't really shown off in the best light here.
Wide shots fare the best, with sweeping landscapes, especially as Ray's arsonist overlooks the destruction he caused while standing on a nearby bridge. Facial detail is adequate, but much of the movie suffers from a softness that just can't be overcome. Crushing, by far, is the worst offender here, gobbling up faces and bodies whenever the scenery around the characters turns darker. Source noise, in the shape of white spots and flecks appear occasionally, but at times it can become quite distracting.
'The Square' is a taught thriller with outstanding cinematography. It's a shame this Blu-ray is far from demo-worthy. Shield's brooding photography is something that would have shone through on a better looking presentation.
Fortunately, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound presentation attached to 'The Square's Blu-ray offers a bit more in the way of enjoyment. The track is alive with all the menacing, threatening sounds that come part and parcel with thrillers. Deep looming bass during the action scenes. High-pitched violin music when things are heating up. There's a range in this presentation that will please most viewers.
Dialog comes through the center channel nice and clear (even though with their accents it might be hard to understand the actors at first. My wife had a hard time understanding them until we were about 10 – 15 minutes into the movie). Directionality is cleanly placed throughout the soundfield as speeding cars and motorcycles dart from one side of the screen to the other with their sounds following right along with them. As a car rolls off the road and crashes off screen we hear all the metal crunching exactly where it should be.
If the video would have come up and met the audio presentation in quality we would be looking at a great Blu-ray disc all around.
'The Square' has a hint of the Coen brothers to it. This is the kind of story they would relish. It's a thriller that doesn't have all the answers, instead we're left to question along with the characters. Watching Ray sink into a never ending hole is hard, but completely worth it. Edgerton directs the action without any slam-bang tactics. It's all just there for you to witness and draw your own conclusions. 'The Square' is one of those movies I wish more people would have been able to see. Here's your chance! This Blu-ray has middling video, fine sound, and a heavy helping of informative extras. I'm recommending 'The Square.' This is a fantastic little film.