The Square – Nash Edgerton 2008, Thriller
Raymond Yale and Carla Smith are lovers in a small Australian town living across the river from one another. However, both are already married; Raymond to a loveless wife and Carla to a domineering petty gangster Greg “Smithy”. Ray and Carla plan to leave their respective spouses and run away together, although Ray insists that they delay until he has enough money to ensure a new life together.
Alternate Readings: Extortion & Love
- The ideology of extortion is expressed through camera shots and angles as well as the narrative of the film as collections of people threaten one another with information and prized possessions.
- Notions of forbidden love are evidently present in this film through a variety of codes such as symbolism and camera shots.
In Nash Edgerton’s 2008-made film ‘The Square’, the ideology of extortion and forbidden love is explored in a modern Australian society. It is through the usage of camera shots, camera angles and symbolism that this has been established. Edgerton uses these technical conventions to create incredibly tense character folds between characters, especially between the two central characters Raymond and Carla. By doing so, this film represents elements similar to that of a typical Neo-Noir film as the character folds lead to betrayal, murder and secrecy all within the context of a quintessential Australian suburb.
Forbidden love is manifestly endorsed in Edgerton’s production by means of symbolism and specified camera shots. Symbolism is expressed through the two differed dogs from either household. The white poodle belongs to Raymond and his home, whilst the big darker bulldog belongs to Carla and her home. These two dogs represent their Raymond and Carla as they love each other as well and want to live together but cannot due to obstacles appearing in their path. For example, in the opening scene where Raymond and Carla are together early in the morning the back of Carla’s car, the camera takes to a shot of their dogs both sitting in Raymond’s car. Raymond’s dog sits in the front seat staring out of the window and into Carla’s car, as does Carla’s dog who sits in the back seat. From this medium camera shot, a sheet of metal on the outside of Raymond’s car acts as a symbol representing a barrier between the dogs. Therefore it can be argued that Edgerton is foreshadowing how tragic the love between Raymond and Carla is and that they just can simply not be together because they’re already married to different people.
Through Edgerton’s manipulation of camera angles and camera shots he has explored the notion of extortion in his film. Extortion plays a big role in this film because of the secrecy of the love affair between Raymond and Carla, and how they must prevent their respected partners from suspecting anything. In order to do this they attempt to pay blackmailers in whatever way they can, resulting to desperate measures at times. Extortion is unmistakably shown in the scene where Jake threatens Raymond with the drawings found in Raymond’s office by saying, “I’ll talk, I’ll talk to the cops”. In this moment, the camera is being shot from a low angle behind Jake looking up at Raymond in an intimidated position. This has been done so that the audience is positioned to be scared of what Raymond might do to Jake, his co-worker, as he holds a shovel in his hands. Another scene that further reinforces notions of extortion is where Raymond is escorted to a hotel room Gil Hubbard, where Barney is found taped up to a sink. This is filmed from a eye-level camera, shot from Raymond’s waist as he faces Barney. This shot reveals the fear in Barney’s face as he trembles at the very thought of him being punished by Raymond or Gil for having an affair behind his wife Laura’s back or blackmailing Raymond. Furthermore, this scene ultimately reveals how dangerous life can get when either being blackmailed or being a blackmailer as literally just about every single character in this film has something to be ashamed of.
Film Noir elements:
- Secret love affairs between Carla and Raymond, as well as Barney and his mistress from the workplace.
- Raymond causing a car collision, resulting in Jake’s death.
- The standoff between Carla, Raymond, Greg and Billy. This leads to the death of both Carla and Greg.
- Barney blackmailing Raymond.
- The death of Carla’s dog that tried to swim across the river to Raymond’s dog.
- Gil who taped Barney up to the sink.
- Billy’s girlfriend who threatened to kill Raymond even though Raymond didn’t hurt her.
- The lighting of the film itself is very grey, there are never any really bright moments presented.
- There is no quiet music, just the sound of kookaburras and Carla’s groaning.
- The Square grossed $321, 788 at the box office in Australia in 2008.
- In 2010, it was released in the US in 24 theatres (spending 105 days in release) and grossed $406,166.
- The film was produced in 4 different places all over New South Wales including: Sydney, Caringbah, Cronulla and Sutherland.
- Ray’s character killed a man that confronted him about Ray looking inside his house. Ray was forced to ‘shut him up’ and chose to hide the body near his workplace.
- The police officer said that it was nice for him to finally get something to do, “a bit of a fire, a bit of death and now this!”. Relates closely to Film Noir.
- Ray’s facial expression is constantly very unamused. He is a serious, humourless character that is cheating on his wife/girlfriend (Wendy?) with Carla.
- The dog belonging to Greg (Carla’s husband) keeps swimming across to Ray’s house to play with Ray’s dog. The dog eventually died as it tried to swim across and drowned.