Review-Lite: Squared Love (2021)

Adrianna Chlebicka and Mateusz Banasiuk in Squared Love

It might just be my choices in recent years but when it comes to Polish cinema, I can’t seem to find an in road. Either they are intentionally crass (365 Dni) or trying too hard to be comic (Fierce) to be genuinely enjoyable to watch. While Squared Love doesn’t change that, it never lets its outlandish plot get in the way of a genuine romance. While the plot may make little to no sense and the advertising industry it paints is one of clowns, not executives, the central couple and the dual roles both play make for an entertaining rom-com that never takes itself too seriously. Following teacher Monika (Adrianna Chlebicka) who after her father’s debt’s become her problem is forced to live a double life as glamourous model Klaudia, a job that makes her cross paths with known philanderer Enzo (Mateusz Banasiuk) who unbeknownst to her is also the uncle of Ania (Helena Mazur) one of her students, threatening to unravel her plans. If that sounds overly complex and full of possible plot holes that is because it is. From the fact this entire ruse requires Monika to fit in photo shoots around her job as a teacher makes Squared Love almost laughable from the start but director Filip Zylber’s ability to keep a light pace while never making a mockery of two slightly childish characters ensures his feature hits the required but never unexpected beats required.

It is in its side characters that problems arise with Zylber and writers Wiktor Piatkowski and Marzanna Polit paying too much lip service to the central duo, never fleshing out their lives outside this narrow focused unbelievable narrative. While Ania and Enzo make an entertaining double act, a wise for her age kid with the man child guardian, lumbered with responsibility unbefitting, Polit and Piatkowski all too frequently use Ania as a plot device, not a child just a tool. Ania’s seafood allergy, something that comes into play not once but twice feels exploitative and the one truly idiotic moment in a film intent on keeping things breezy. On the other side, Monika is saddled with a father who careens from wise old man to alcoholic mess, either forcing her into a decision or guiding her towards one. None of these people just exist in Monika or Enzo’s orbit, instead being placed there as if by divine provenance or more likely, lazy writing.

While it never becomes something memorable, Squared Love is a perfectly silly way to spend an evening, even if by the end you will find yourself asking the big questions in life, namely how did anyone fall for that wig, how lax are driving laws in Poland and most importantly if Monika can be in two places at once, why can’t I?

TSR

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