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playDirector Ruben Östlund’s follow-up to Involuntary (2008) takes a similar approach to uncomfortable every-day situations in our society. This time, he was inspired by a news story about a group of immigrant kids who used social games as a strategy in their attempts to rob other kids who were white. The issue of race matters, but this isn’t a racist film as some critics charged; it is above all a depiction of young boys growing up in underprivileged neighborhoods, where adults are unwilling to take their oppressive behavior seriously. A cast of amateurs shines, and Östlund has a remarkable way of turning his audiences into a fly on the wall.

2011-Sweden-Denmark-France. 118 min. Color. Produced by Erik Hemmendorff. Written and directed by Ruben Östlund. Cast: Anas Abdirahman (Anas), Sebastian Blyckert (Sebastian), Yannick Diakite (Yannick), Sebastian Hegmar, Abdiaziz Hilowle, Nana Manu.

Last word: “One detail I found very interesting is that all the victims, from the very beginning, knew they were going to be robbed. Still, they followed the robbers from crowded places to an empty back street. Only twice the victims called for help, and on both occasions the robbery stopped immediately. It made me think of an incident during Holocaust when one Nazi soldier, with one gun, forced a whole group of Jews on a 15-minute walk to their own execution. They knew what awaited them, but still they did not resist. Apparently, we humans are so afraid of questioning the rules that we try to push conflict – chaos – in front of us as long as possible.” (Östlund, Cineuropa)

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