“The Square” (2008)

The Square is part of a new wave of Aussie noirs, and it’s gotten so many rave reviews I stupidly let myself get my hopes up. It’s familiar stuff. A married, middle-class guy is having an affair with a younger woman whose riffraff boyfriend has a big bag of ill-gotten cash, so the lovers decide to torch the house and make it look like the money burned before taking off for some Shangri-La where neither the boyfriend, the guy’s wife, nor the police will ever think to look for them. As Basil Fawlty would say, “YES! BRILLIANT!” They can’t even make it to the city limits though they live in a fucking swamp. Now, I know haplessness can be the noir hero’s defining trait, but this goofy schmuck winds up accidentally bumping off half the cast before the end, and the last death made me laugh out loud when I was clearly supposed to be devastated. It doesn’t help either that, unlike Stanwyck or Kathleen Turner in their primes, the object of his desire wouldn’t rate a second look on the street. Sorry, fella—you brought this one on yourself.

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