Squares begins as an enigma: We see a short glimpse of an inert woman’s toenail polish, a ringing phone, a clock that goes back in time, and we hear a disembodied voice which appears unconnected to what we see. Instead of matching the image and soundtrack, Squares delivers us a discontinuous sensory experience, coupled with the eerie sense of impending disaster.
But this is not a film that ever commits to its plot; rather, Squares uses fractured images and voices to ask questions about how humans experience the most important moments in time. In the film, Noah (Aaron Fontaine) is an itinerate backpacker who “always lives in the present.” He wanders the streets, tries to call someone from a pay phone (the dead woman?), and steals some snacks from a corner store, and we are left with a series of questions: Did he kill the dead woman, is he avoiding the police? Who is she?
Slowly, the film’s narrative unfolds as a love story. At some point, Noah and his girlfriend (Sophie Khan Levy) met and fell in love. But something goes wrong, and we see him calling her from a payphone and she is already dead. He appears to live outside of linear time, reliving all of these moments without being about to change their outcome. Metaphorically and literally, he is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, he eventually connects with Anton (Antony Acheampong), another man who appears to live outside of linear time. Anton gives Noah a book that just may fix whatever has gone wrong.
Even upon re-watching the film, the plot is never made explicitly clear. It’s a puzzle that never explicitly fits together; however, that’s not the point of the film. It’s a testament to the director Bernard Kordiesh’s gorgeous imagery and editing style that the concrete plot doesn’t really seem to matter. Instead, Squares brings together visual and aural images to give an emotional and sensory experience that doesn’t need specific answers. Beautifully shot and extremely well acted, the captures the excitement, romance, loss, and longing that emerge in every love story. At the same time, it infuses the images with tension and frustration: how do we fix the mistakes that define us? While the film doesn’t tell us that we can, it evokes the possibilities of hope. It the shows us a fantasy of re-living the best moments in the past and fixing the worst ones, and in doing so creating new possibilities for old mistakes.