The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: David Robert, Claire Van Der Boom, Joel Edgerton, Anthony Hayes, Peter Phelps, Bill Hunter
Directed by: Nash Edgerton
Music by: Ben Lee
Written by: Joel Edgerton & Matthew Dabner
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 24, 2010
"A secret affair. A ruthless betrayal. A brutal revenge"
Arson, murder, and blackmail. This astonishingly original thriller takes twists and turns to a new level. Ray and Carla, who are having a steamy affair, plot to steal money from Carla's husband, Greg. But what begins as a simple plan quickly spirals out of control when the mob gets involved and Ray and Carla are helpless to stop the violent and bloody sequence of events.
Escaping the monotony of a loveless marriage, Raymond Yale (David Roberts) becomes entangled in an affair with the beautiful and troubled Carla. Ray's moral limits are tested when Carla presents him with the proceeds of her controlling husband's latest crime. This is their chance: Take the money and run...if only it were that simple. The seed is planted and Ray, fearing he will lose his love, engineers the plan. Hiring the professional arsonist Billy becomes a fatal error, and the plan goes horribly wrong. Alarm bells sound and suspicions are raised but, miraculously, the dust looks to settle. After all...nobody knows. Then the first blackmail note arrives.
The Square is an edgy thriller that carefully depicts the cascading circumstances that befall a couple involved in an adulterous affair. It sets things up well by introducing us to Ray and Carla, two ordinary people who are unhappy in their current relationships and have found love in one another's arms. Their dream of being together requires the funds necessary to make a clean and extended getaway. His plan revolves around the agreement of acceptance of a rather large kickback from a contractor at work. Her plan is to steal a bag full of cash from her shady husband Greg by concealing the theft via burning their house down. Unfortunately his kickback is contingent upon the contractor delivering the goods to the worksite which for various reasons has been delayed. Her plan seems more expedient and simple enough but requires careful timing and the use of a professional to make it look like an accident. An unforeseen miscalculation ends not only in disaster but raises suspicions from Greg whose felonious resolve runs much deeper than Carla and Ray can imagine. The story takes an entirely new direction once Ray receives an anonymous letter of blackmail stating, I know what you did.
It's interesting to watch Ray's transmogrification from a seemingly nebbish type, initially resistant to Carla's plan, to a nefarious individual whose rash actions are driven by paranoia, fear and desperation. Oh what a tangled web we weave.Based on their actions it would be hard to view Ray and Carla as sympathetic but as things descend into the abyss it's pretty tough to see them as anything but. This is where The Square excels. With the adulterous affair, the botched theft/house fire/incident, and the cover up, we see nothing but two selfish people who got in over their heads and should get caught. It's when we see Greg's true colors, the immergence of the mystery blackmailer, and the series of incredibly unfortunate events that befall Ray in his quest to conceal the truth that the script expertly attempts to evoke a sense of pity/understanding for their plight. At its apex the story bombards with a foreboding sense of dread as the plot thickens. When it reaches its suspenseful, climactic and mildly twisted ending you almost can't help but wonder aloud, was it really worth it?
I rather enjoyed The Square. Its screenplay sometimes asks too much of the imagination but as thrillers go it presents a formulaic but engaging story that could certainly be strictly construed as it pertains to the human condition.
The rating is for violence and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Square comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 Mbps.
By design this film doesn't boast vibrant colors are eye popping visuals but the encoding appears solid. Colors have a muted level of saturation and those used are rarely bright which imparts a cooler visual aesthetic. Overall they are naturally rendered and appear to fall within the visual range intended. Fleshtones have appreciable complexional distinction but the lighting used can sometimes leave them appearing drab. Blacks are respectable with above average delineation. Shadow detail is quite good which enhances visual perception during the scenes shot at night or in limited lighting. Resolution is adequate so that varying degrees of detail can be seen in close ups but the video isn't razor sharp or dimensionally strong. This is more or less attributable to the film stock and a light veil of grain which when combined with the reserved palette of colors gives it a dull finish. This seems to coincide with the creative decisions of the filmmakers and results in stable high definition imagery that works well with the source material.
The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound quality is quite good. Dynamics are defining without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with definitive clarity and discerning tonal character that exhibits above average room penetration. The diffused front soundstage has excellent channel separation which enhances the audibility of low level detail. The presentation doesn't offer much in the way of discrete surround sound however environmental sounds and immersive ambience through the rear channels effectively extends front soundstage. Bass response isn't constantly room filling but it appropriately supports the source elements and provides a tight, and palpably rich low end.
- 13 deleted/1 extended scene with play all option
- Inside The Square (29 minutes) - Behind the scenes/production featurette
- Previsualization (5 minutes)
- Scene deconstruction - 3 sequences (Billy watches the fire, House fire, Falling dream)
- Sand music video by Jessica Chapnik
- (HD) Spider short film (9 minutes)
- (HD) Previews: Chloe, The Runaways, Pillars of the Earth, A single man, Harry Brown, Fireflies in the garden
- BD-Live enabled
The Square isn't perfectly orchestrated but it's a worthwhile thriller with an engaging albeit formulaic plot that has a nice little twist that will leave you shaking your head. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Sony won't impress with high gloss imagery or room shaking sound but its quality high definition rendering and crystal clear DTS-HD Master Audio mix support the source material quite nicely. The supplied bonus features offer a brief look inside the production but will leave fans of the film wanting more. The Square comes recommended and makes for a great rental on movie night.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
As far as video, it's not exactly reference material - but with several scenes in darker/subdued places (eg. night, rain, indoor shadows,...) it was well presented.
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