| Australian siblings Nash and Joel Edgerton mirror the Coen brothers (“Blood Simple” and “No Country for Old Men”) in this crime thriller that ups the ante in nail-biting suspense and unexpected twists.
Ray Yale (David Roberts) and Carla Smith (Claire van der Boom from “The Pacific”) are looking to escape their mundane lives. Their ongoing extramarital affair has been confined to sexual trysts in a car or hotel room.
Ray is a middle-aged construction supervisor stuck in a loveless marriage to frigid Martha (Lucy Bell). His latest project is the erection of a honeymoon resort just outside Sydney. The title refers to the shape of the grid that will provide the concrete foundation for the structure. Ray engages in shady business dealings under the table with his subcontractors.
The attractive Carla works as a hairdresser. Her abusive husband Greg (Anthony Hayes) drives a tow truck and is a low-level thug. She finds a duffel bag of cash that Greg has hidden in the crawl space above the ceiling of the utility room. She and Ray come up with a simple plan to take the money and run.
Ray hires Billy (Joel Edgerton who came up with the story and co-wrote the screenplay) to set Greg and Carla’s house on fire. Complications arise when Carla learns that Greg’s elderly mother is inside the house.
The famous quote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” is put into play as a domino effect turns things from bad to worse.
Director Nash Edgerton is one of the leading stuntmen in the Aussie film industry. He puts his background to good use in his feature length directorial debut with nifty stunts and action set pieces. This brain teaser is tightly edited, cleverly plotted and smartly written. It is lacking in character development and leaves out the sexual gymnastics.
Blackmail enters into the proceedings with a series of perfumed Christmas cards demanding payment. Torrential rains, shark-infested waters and a series of deaths keep the police busy.
The actors are compelling and convincing in portraying amateurish working class folks living in a rough neighborhood. The props, sound effects and original musical score add to the enjoyment as clues are doled out piecemeal over the 105-minute running time.
The movie won the 2009 Best Screenplay Award from the Film Critics Circle of Australia.
The cynical main attraction is preceded by “Spider,” a 10-minute live-action short written, directed and starring Nash Edgerton. It prepares you to be on guard for the unexpected. It is about a guy trying to reconcile with his girlfriend while they drive around town. Its wicked and macabre sense of humor culminates in several “gotcha” moments.
This cinematic bounty from Down Under is now playing exclusively at the newly refurbished Glenwood at Red Bridge on the southwest corner of Holmes and Red Bridge Road.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"