Released on May 15, 2011, the Swedish movie “Play” concerns a group of black boys who use psychological games to rob a group of white boys. It revolves around various themes, such as race, identity, manipulation, bullying and customs. Directed by Ruben Östlund, “Play” was controversial and provocative, and it resulted in a public debate in Sweden’s mass media. Written by Erik Hemmendorff and Ruben Östlund, “Play” is inspired by real life incidents of robbery and bullying in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Five teenage black boys act out an elaborate routine to rob two white teenage boys and an Asian teenager in Gothenburg. The black boys play bad cop/good cop to lure the white kids into their trap. One of the black boys first asks for the time, and when one of the white boys takes out his mobile phone to check the time, a black kid exclaims that the phone looks exactly like one his brother lost the day before. Even though the white kid, who is now the victim, denies it, he is not able to escape due to his fear of looking guilty.
The black boys now force the white boys to come along to verify the phone with the brother who lost it. The black boys then succeed in robbing the white boys of all their valuables through various psychological games. Through interesting turns, the movie seeks to show how people can wrongly interpret and exploit the idea of racism.