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'Squared Love' Review: To all the tropes I've loved before

A perfectly fine imported rom-com plays a one-note song in the Netflix Top 10 for the Valentine's Day holiday.

Adrianna Chlebicka in the poster for "Squared Love" on Netflix.
(Image: © Netflix)

Our Verdict

It's an hour and a half of pretty people doing the usual rom-com things — lies, mistaken betrayal, and ultimately redemption and happily ever after.

For

  • ❤️ Pretty people doing pretty things on screen.
  • ❤️ Perfectly time for the Valentine's Day holiday.
  • ❤️ A film you won't have to think to hard while watching.

Against

  • 💔 The usual rom-com cliches.
  • 💔 Not a lot of diversity in Polish rom-coms, apparently.

There's nothing particularly wrong with a movie made via formula. Entire college courses are built around exploring the hero's journey, for example, and countless films follow that basic plan. 

Same goes for romantic comedies, of course. They're full of different cliches, but still follow the same basic arc every time — opposites eventually attract, but not before some act of betrayal that requires some sort of redemption before the movie's over.

Sounds like the perfect recipe for another out-of-nowhere Netflix Top 10 entry, which is what we get with the Polish import Milosc do kwadratu, or Squared Love here in the United States. 

Squared Love is the story of schoolteacher Monika (Adrianna Chlebicka), who wants nothing more than to teach her elementary-aged students and just help them get a good start on live. But her father has racked up some debuts to some people who don't take that sort of thing lightly, and so she's taken to working as a fashion model to help pay that off.

Only, she's doing it in secret because her father wouldn't approve, out of pride as well as concern for his daughter, and a misconception of what modeling actually is. So Monika puts on a wig full of long, luxurious curls, calls herself Klaudia, and apparently can work some serious fashion campaigns without anyone actually knowing who she is. (Never mind the daylight shoots she somehow manages to schedule around a class full of third-graders.)

Meanwhile, Enzo (Mateusz Banasiuk) is a womanizing celebrity journalist who enjoys fast cars as much as he also enjoys models. Nothing seems particularly evil about it — dude's just having a good time and doesn't think too much about the consequences. That becomes a problem for his girlfriend, Alicja (Agnieszka Zulewska), despite their open relationship. So Enzo's kicked out and forced to live with his brother and niece. (Enzo's name actually is Stefan, which his brother loves to rib him about.)

Enzo and Klaudia end up meeting while both are on their way to a shoot — only Enzo thinks he's just giving a ride to a beautiful prostitute. Not a great way to make a first impression. Turns out they look great together on camera, and a plan is set in motion for them to be the faces of a major marketing campaign for the BMW i8. 

It turns out that Enzo's niece, Ania, is in Monika's class, so Enzo ends up meeting the schoolteacher as well as the model. Enzo (almost certainly for Enzo Ferrari, of course) starts to fall for her. An added complication — and exactly the sort of thing that'll keep a rom-com moving. (There's a great little dig at GDPR when a security guard nearly outs her name in front of Enzo, which really is only funny to those of us in the digital in the U.S. who have to be nominally aware of the General Data Protection Regulation for work reasons.) 

Monika and Enzo start spending more time with each other, first as part of Ania's class, but later alone. Monika sees a side of Enzo that Klaudia never does when they're both in modeling mode. Simultaneously, Enzo and Klaudia go on a date where he learns that she's not just some stuck-up model but also is into classic cars, and has his dream Audi sitting in a garage. (This is where I started getting some serious Better Off Dead vibes.) Monika and Enzo have some real chemistry when they get back on set — much to the chagrin of Alicja. Sure, she kicked out Enzo, but that doesn't mean she can't be jealous of the younger, stunning model Klaudia. So Alicja makes Klaudia believe she's pregnant with Enzo's child, which leads to a weirdly random steamy back shot of Monika in the shower, and Monika taking out her anger on Enzo. (That's the most scandalous shot of the whole film, and really the only thing about the movie that's not PG.)

Exactly what you think happens next happens next. It's hard keeping up the double life, and one of the mechanics who works for Monika's father finds out her secret and threatens to out her as Klaudia, because he thinks she's a prostitute, too. The big BMW campaign launch event finally comes around, and Klaudia's big secret exposed just as she learns that Alicja isn't actually pregnant. 

And they all lived happily ever after. Because, just Monika's father tells her earlier in the film at the grave of his wife, "I don't know much about love. But I know that when you meet that person, when it all clicks into place, everything is twice as good. It happened with me and Mom. It will happen with you, too."

"Real love is always squared."

It also leads to a random place on the Netflix Top 10 on Valentine's Day weekend.