© Senator/Central

Easy Money (Snabba Cash)
Sweden 2010

Opening 15 Sep 2011

Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Writing credits: Jens Lapidus, Fredrik Wikström, Maria Karlsson, Hassan Loo Sattarvandi
Principal actors: Joel Kinnaman , Matias Padin , Dragomir Mrsic , Lisa Henni , Mahmut Suvakci

These days everyone wants to be a Stieg Larsson character, or – hey – even Larsson himself. Take, for example, author Jens Lapidus who wrote the book which provided the basis for the film directed by Daniel Espinosa which stars Joel Kinnaman as JO (called JW in the German version).

JO is a lily-white student who denies his low-middle class, perfectly respectable origins and pretends to be the rich son of diplomats working in exciting places around the world. He goes to economics classes in Stockholm and parties with friends like Carl, who are truly high society. He even falls in love with one of them: Sophie (Lisa Henni).

In his other, secret, life he drives a taxi for an Arab named Abdulkarim and hides an escaped convict named Jorge. Always in the need of “easy money,” he agrees to a cocaine-dealing hype and delves into the drug-dealing scene. He puts up a nonchalant façade of superiority, but is quite lost in both worlds and this brings him down in the end. Naturally, the end is open because this is based on a trilogy (see Larsson).

In this first part JO and Jorge organize a huge supply of drugs through a dealer in Hamburg. They actually go to Hamburg and visit the dealers in their pet shop and green house – the perfect place for drug dealers, because they can smuggle drugs in dogs and flowers. Serbian Mafia boss Radovan learns of the unwanted competition on his own turf, but he can no longer rely on his number-one man, Mrado, who asks too many questions and has too many objections. Mrado begins to reassess his priorities when his five-year-old daughter Lovisa moves in with him. JO’s double life becomes more complicated when the cards are reshuffled and he suddenly sides with Mrado.

This is just the beginning – Parts II and III will surely follow, considering that Easy Money was a big hit in Sweden. I found it difficult to follow. I never knew who was who or why. Perhaps the most clear-cut character is Spanish-speaking Jorge whose sister does her best to help him, although she is pregnant and must care for an old mother and think first of her husband. The most appealing character is little, innocent Lovisa, cuddling her stuffed toy. What were Social Services thinking to hand her over to her well-meaning, but criminal, father?

There is certainly enough action: fist fights and escapes, all multi-cultural in Spanish, Serbian, Swedish, English, German, and Arabic. Perhaps too much action in too many languages caused me to lose the thread, but if action is enough for you, then go for it as all the actors are excellent and interesting in their roles. It was filmed on location in Gothenburg and Stockholm, as well as in Hamburg, not because Hamburg is such a beautiful city (which it is) but because the Filmförderung Hamburg-Schleswig-Holstein provided financial support. (Becky Tan)

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