Director: Filip Zylber
Writer: Wiktor Piatkowski
Cast: Mateusz Banasiuk, Adrianna Chlebicka
Streaming Platform: Netflix
Squared Love dabbles in doubles, with both lead characters projecting two personalities each. There’s Stefan (Mateusz Banasiuk), who prefers to be called Enzo, like the Ferrari aesthetic catastrophe of a car. The name Stefan reminds him of a past that he wants nothing to do with. Why he feels this way, is to ask for a depth in a frothing jacuzzi of a tale. It took me a while to realize that Enzo is like vapour—he’s a trained engineer who writes social media posts, and poses as a model for cars that he drives around the city to pick up women before coming home to his girlfriend with whom he is in an open relationship. You just don’t get a sense of who he is, or what he does.
If that was bad, the wilful duplicity in the female lead is worse—she’s a bespectacled primary school teacher, Monika (Adrianna Chlebicka) but to pay off her father’s debt (owed to leather jacket wearing Polish pawns) she moonlights as Klaudia, a curly haired brunette with blue eyes who models in popular commercials, butt-baring. Enzo first mistakes Klaudia for a sex-worker, and the love story that is to unroll, predictably begins on a bad foot. They star together in a car commercial where the one note they receive from the director is, “Now! Kiss!”. The Kambakkht Ishq-isms to “Feel The Love” are glaring, and a bit, well, haunting. Both films ran like extended advertisements, at best. At their worst, they were unerotic catastrophes.
A sexy siren and a haughty playboy fall in love to shed their sex appeal for dull domestic bliss. Where else have we heard the same story?
Enzo babysits his brother’s daughter Ania, a young girl who, like the trope, flushes his flirtations with conscience, “If you keep going fast, you’ll miss everything around you.” Apart from this Ania’s other job is to faint from her fish allergic reactions. There’s no sex in the movie, and there’s little that goes for sex appeal, which calls the film’s intentions to question. It’s not entirely unerotic, because the leads are beautiful, and they share space in a way that begs for them to bang. But there’s little pleasure to be had.
The Polish translations might be weak, or the Polish writing ineffective, because often the dialogues made little sense, and the scene transitions confusing. The title itself comes from a conversation between Monika and her father, where he says, “Real love is always squared,” without offering much by way of explanation. I’m not sure what that means, but given Enzo’s theoretical voracious sex-life, the foursome interpretation isn’t far off. (Theoretical, because like the rom-coms of yore where a playboy’s playboy-isms are implied as part of worn-out dialogues; the inability to show nudity masked by the enthusiasm to imply it.)
The worst offender of the movie, however, is its tone. Monika judges Klaudia and predictably, renounces her at the end. Enzo too sheds his polyamory for a more settled two-some. The kind of timidity that wrecks the provocative staging of the film—a sexy siren and a haughty playboy fall in love to shed their sex appeal for dull domestic bliss. Where else have we heard the same story?