Easy Money ★★★★

Based on the novel of the same name by Jens Lapidus, "Easy Money" is a grittily realistic, engaging, and unpredictable “Stockholm noir” film about three characters whose lives become entwined by their desire to make easy money. Unsurprisingly, there are no simple solutions and no clean getaways in this story. The climax is pulse-pounding, and the movie thankfully does not have an unrealistically happy ending.

The central characters are Johan “JW” Westlund (Joel Kinnaman, "Johan Falk: Special Operation"), Jorge (Matias Padin Varela), and Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic). While all three of them are interesting to follow, Mrado’s character arc is the most affecting one because he is forced to take care of his 8-year-old daughter Lovisa (Lea Stojanov). In a poignant scene, Mrado and his daughter are in a grocery store and Mrado, not really knowing what to buy for his daughter, resorts to following another man with a child around the store and buying the same groceries as that man buys.

The three lead actors deliver strong performances and are convincing in their roles. With his voice and expressive body language, Kinnaman very effectively conveys all of his character’s emotions. Lisa Henni does a good job as Sophie, one of the few female characters in the film. Stojanov’s acting is natural and she has an impressive screen presence.

Daniél Espinosa directs "Easy Money" with a sure hand, handling both the scenes of violence and the low-key moments with aplomb. The screenplay, written by Maria Karlsson, keeps the narrative strands under control, which prevents the film from feeling disjointed. Jon Ekstrand’s score is occasionally a bit intrusive, and the second-rate sound mixing makes the authentic-sounding dialogue difficult to hear at times.