Screened as part of NZIFF 2011

Play 2011

Directed by Ruben Östlund

This tense, provocative and surprisingly funny drama draws us into the ‘little brother’ scam by which a young black Swedish street gang successfully hustled other kids in plain sight, without physical violence.

Denmark / France / Sweden In Arabic and Swedish with English subtitles
118 minutes

Director, Screenplay


Erik Hemmendorff
Philippe Bober


Marius Dybwad Brandrud


Ruben Östlund
Jacob Schulsinger


Saunder Jurriaans
Daniel Bensi


Anas Abdirahman
Sebastian Blyckert
Yannick Diakité
Sebastian Hegmar
Abdiaziz Hilowle
Nana Manu
John Ortiz
Kevin Vaz


Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight) 2011


In a Gothenburg mall, five boys (all dark-skinned, aged from eight to around 15) stake out a group of three clearly better-off young boys (two white, one Asian) and ask them the time. When one consults his phone, he is accused of having stolen it from the first boy’s little brother. So begins the tortuously elaborate ‘little brother’ scam by which numerous kids were hustled, in plain sight, without physical violence, into handing over their precious cargo by an actual Gothenburg gang. And by which we are hooked into this tense, provocative and sometimes surprisingly funny film. Working with an effortlessly naturalistic cast, director/writer Ruben Östlund draws us into the racially loaded dynamics played out between and within the two gangs. As his constantly mobile protagonists range in and out of frame, his static RED 4K camera casts its super clear eye on the city that goes about its business and lets them get on with theirs. — BG