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Sweden/France/Denmark | Swedish with English subtitles | 113 minutes
A deliberately provoked racial incident, based on numerous similar real-life transgressions, is played for all it's worth in Play. Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund has developed mesmerizing visual strategies based on long takes and fixed camera positions to relate a disturbing tale of how five savvy African immigrant boys in Gothenburg take advantage of the liberal guilt and placating temperament of three local kids to rob them and take them for a ride to unknown destinations. Social, racial and political credos are twisted, pulled inside out and stood on their head by this bracing and confronting work, which will challenge the assumptions of many a viewer. Dazzlingly shot on the new Red 4K camera, Play is a considerable achievement both formally and dramatically that poses more questions than it answers as it lays bare attitudes lurking beneath the surface tranquility of Scandinavian life—a peacefulness that, as we have seen of late, can sometimes be tragically shattered.
Why you should see Play: NYFF Spotlight.