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1,628 Ratings


Directed by Ruben Östlund
Sweden, France, 2011


Ruben Östlund’s study of human behaviour was inspired by authentic cases in which groups of young black boys, aged 12-14, robbed other children in central Göteborg between 2006 and 2008, using an elaborate role-play which tricked the victims without having to resort to violence or threats.

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Play Directed by Ruben Östlund
As in Force Majeure, which depicts the craven loss and ceremonial recovery of manhood, Play is concerned with the process of constructing and maintaining roles. The additional element of race in this earlier film makes it an altogether chewier piece of work, Östlund’s most interesting to date, depicting his countrymen as hidebound by manners and liberal conscientiousness, reserved to the point of being incapacitated by “Don’t get involved” skittishness.
January 17, 2015
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[Play is] Östlund’s most provocative film and easily his most troubling portrait of contemporary Sweden… To create Play’s illusion of chance and immediacy while still remaining dedicated to his chosen aesthetic philosophy, Östlund situates his camera in unlikely places, such as the intercarriage of a moving bus, forcing the viewer’s perspective to reorient itself with every horizontal sweep of the vehicle and thereby allowing his chosen environment to dictate much of the mounting anxiety.
January 13, 2015
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Play" makes the barbed implication that the thieves go unchallenged because those who might stop them fear appearing racist. But it is provocative simply in showing how trust is gained and kept, even after the swindled kids have understood their robbers’ motives. (Given that this is Sweden, perhaps they’re experiencing an unusually literal form of Stockholm syndrome.)
January 13, 2015
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