Easy Money is Daniel Espinosa’s take on the 2006 novel Snabba Cash by Jens Lapidus. The film follows multiple strands of an interlinked story: JW (Joel Kinnaman) is a poor boy from rural roots studying at a prestigious business school, and working incredibly hard to keep up the facade of wealth to his rich friends. Jorge (Matias Padin Varela) is a prison escapee and the key to a massive cocaine deal, while Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) is a Serbian gangster who has recently been reunited with his young daughter.
The complexity of multiple concurrent storylines, the sheer volume of characters and the film’s ambitious scale reveal Easy Money as an obvious novel adaptation. But most telling is the fact that the relationships don’t seem to make sense. As with many adaptations, the audience is left to fill in the gaps for brevity’s sake, and they are too many and too great in Easy Money. The film would have been more focused without JW’s love affair, which feels like an afterthought, but JW’s relationship with Jorge is the most problematic. One assumes from the way events unfold that there is a sense of brotherhood between the two, but there is little to indicate this is the case.
Easy Money is shot in natural light, with handheld cameras and on video to ramp up the realism. The acting is very much in line with this sense of realism with almost universally able performances (perhaps excluding Lisa Henni as Sophie, though this more to do with the pointless nature of the role, rather than its execution). Joel Kinnaman is fine as the conflicted JW, mixing sleaziness with confusion for a character out of his depth. Varela brings a kinetic rawness to Jorge that is very impressive, and Mrsic really shines in his turn as Mrado. A brilliant mix of melancholia, savagery and optimism make Mrado the standout character, brightening every scene he is in.
The film is let down by poor pacing and plot holes. While it may work for fans of the book with a greater sense of the characters, others will have a hard time buying into the story. One gets the sense that Espinosa tried to fit everything in, but even at the 124-minute running time had to resort to skeleton plot for some strands of the story. A tighter and more focused cut of Easy Money would improve it immeasurably.
Easy Money is released in selected cinemas on 19th July 2013.
Watch the trailer for Easy Money here: