'Easy Money' is a brutal, brooding, but compelling crime drama
"Easy Money," directed by Daniél Espinosa and starring Joel Kinnaman and Matias Padin Varela, is a brutal, brooding crime drama that does not end prettily, writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald in this review. She nevertheless found it a compelling film, in which nobody turns out to be quite what they seem. It's playing at Seattle's Harvard Exit.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Easy Money,' with Joel Kinnaman, Matias Padin Varela, Dragomir Mrsic, Lisa Henni, Dejan Cukic, Annika Whittembury. Directed by Daniél Espinosa, from a screenplay by Maria Karlsson, Espinosa, Fredrik Wikström and Hassan Loo Sattarvandi, based on the novel "Snabba Cash" by Jens Lapidus. 124 minutes. Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and some sexuality. In Swedish, Serbian and Spanish, with English subtitles. Harvard Exit.
"Don't go thinking you know the people you work for," says a character late in Daniél Espinosa's brutal, brooding crime drama "Easy Money"; it's a fair warning, as nobody in this film turns out to be quite what they seem. Set in contemporary Stockholm and filmed with a jittery urgency, it follows three men trapped in an underworld of drugs and violence. JW (Joel Kinnaman, of TV's "The Killing") is a student, looking almost brittle in his handsome perfection, who funds his lifestyle through crime. Jorge (Matias Padin Varela), a recent escapee from prison, seeks that proverbial One Last Job so that he can leave the life for good. Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic), a key figure in the Serbian mafia, feels comfortably entrenched — until he finds himself unexpectedly caring for his young, sad-eyed daughter, whose presence seems to remind him of the possibility of a better life. Their stories eventually intertwine, not prettily.
Based on a novel by Jens Lapidus, "Easy Money" (pity the filmmakers couldn't have hung on to its Swedish title, "Snabba Cash") isn't always easy to follow; the rapid-fire parade of beatings, blood, cocaine shipments and threatening-looking men races by like a fugitive fleeing the law. But what's compelling is the sense of gravity that Espinosa brings; the realization (absent from so many crime thrillers) that these actions have meaning and consequence. And it's a pleasure to see Kinnaman, free of his "Killing" scruff and mumble, meticulously crafting a character torn between two lives. JW, whom we see dressing for the day as if he's about to step onto a stage, moves easily in high society, but something's off; he's always curling his lips around his teeth, as if he's hiding something. Later, at a refined meet-the-parents dinner with a lovely heiress (Lisa Henni), he desperately tries to conceal a bloodstain on his impeccable cuff. We're left with the impression that though the mark may eventually be washed away, this man in a mask will never be truly clean.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com