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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Snabba Cash and Contradictions

Well, Daniel Espinoza's Snabba Cash (Easy Money) is hardly the best Scandinavian noir thriller I have seen, but it does have something characteristic of this genre that I enjoy.

What I don't like about it are some been-there-done-that elements. One of the three main characters, the spiffily dressed MBA student Johan (middle in the poster), is clearly a Tom Ripley rip-off. The shaky hand-held camera is way overdone ten years ago. The jump cuts that slightly mix up temporal sequence of scenes are very Steven Soderbergh. None of this is particularly new. Plus too many plot gaps can be frustrating to habitual mystery readers who care about logical transitions --- it's an indication of carelessness in the director and editor. I'm sure the novel on which it was based is better. It also lacks the characteristic black/cold/absurd humor characteristic of other Scandinavian noir films. Replacing it is a melting-pot view of the Swedish immigrants and a mixture of Swedish, Spanish, and (I assume) Serbian dialog. The tone is problematic, oscillating between cynical and sentimental. The main character, the blond Swede Johan, is too sleazy looking to garner sympathy, and the Spaniard Jorge (left) is poorly drawn.

Nevertheless, what I like about this and other Scandinavian noirs is the sense of irony and contradictions. I have observed that some people --- mentally healthy and normal, functional people --- have been born without a sense of irony. I suppose humanity does not need it to survive. So then why do some of us have it and some don't? I am convinced that it is completely innate and cannot be taught. I wish someone would invent a checklist to diagnose who can recognize/appreciate irony and who cannot, just like depression or bipolar diagnostic criteria.

About contradictions. The most egregious example in the movie is that the Serbian hit man Mrado (right) is given an 8-year-old daughter that he has to take around to all kinds of shady occasions, playing in the room while others talk about killing, drug dealing, and beating up rivals. In one scene, she is playing with her stuffed animal while her dad was trying out some submachine guns laying on the bed. Hmm... I hope she grows up into a peace-loving girl. Although slightly softened, Mrado is not turned into a kind and loving human being by having a cute little girl around. Ah I must steal this (not the hitman-with-a-girl cliche but character contradictions) for myself!

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