Scandinavian Film Festival Review: Easy Money (Snabba cash) (Sweden, 2010)


I’ve not watched a huge amount of Swedish cinema in my life, but the few films that I have watched have the same stylistic feature that has led me to believe something about Swedish dramas: that they are characterised by a distinct visual and narrative style based in honesty and stark realism. This realism is at the forefront of Daniel Espinosa’s film Easy Money (Snabba Cash) – a film that explores the underbelly of Stockholm’s high life, and the lengths one will go to desperately hold onto that lifestyle.

Johan “JW” Westlund (Joel Kinnaman) is an Economics student who comes from a working-class family, but desires to live the high life of a ‘jetsetter’ in Stockholm. JW earns extra money working as an illegal taxi driver, but is enticed into the world of drug dealing and money laundering when he begins a romance with beautiful jetsetter Sophie (Lisa Henni). He is tasked to find fugitive and cocaine expert Jorge (Matias Varela) and finds himself up against Yugoslavian drug lord Radovan (Dejan Čukić) and his henchman Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic). The lives of these men intersect and lead to an inevitably messy confrontation which leaves no one unscathed.

Make no mistake – it may be titled Easy Money, but this film isn’t easy to watch. Its stark and bleak aesthetics enhance the gritty subject matter, and that subject matter ranges from drugs to domestic violence and murder. The realism that is characteristic of Swedish dramas is very present in Easy Money, and the film isn’t sugar-coated for any of its 126 minutes. Joel Kinnaman does a great job as JW – we see him go from a man who is great at performance, always cool calm and collected, to a broken, out of control man who is slowly being drawn in to the dark side. Dragomir Mrsic is also fantastic as hit man Mrado, who finds his world turned upside down when he is tasked to be primary carer for his young daughter.

One criticism of the film is that with so many characters, and so many different gangs, it becomes difficult to work out who is working for whom – this becomes confusing, and I spent a fair bit of the first hour of the film trying to work this out. Once the lines become clearer, the film really takes off and becomes utterly compelling. The multi-layered characterisation of JW, Jorge and Mrado is very well done, and soon you find yourself wondering which person to root for – and when this happens, you know you’ve stumbled upon a very well-written film.

I’ve always been a fan of realism in drama and it’s for this reason that I really enjoyed Easy Money. It’s by no means an easy watch, but it’s compelling and very well written. It will definitely require full attention, but once it hooks you in, just like JW, you’ll find there’s no going back.


Easy Money will screen alongside Easy Money 2 and Easy Money 3 as part of the Scandinavian Film Festival, touring Australia in July. For more details head HERE.


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