Before Ruben Östlund became a big deal with Force Majeure, he made a very controversial film called Play (2011), which is set in Gothenburg, the second biggest city in Sweden, and is about a pack of black boys who terrorize and rob white boys they meet in malls and on the streets.

This is not an easy film to watch. The black boys (the sons of poor immigrants) are mean and even violent, and the white boys (and in one case, an Asian) are completely powerless. And the root of this powerlessness is that they (and their society) do not know what to do about the bad black kids because they fear being labeled racists, and the black boys are aware of this fear and exploit it to the max.

Is this a fair representation of race relations in Sweden? What is the director really trying to say? Is he on the side of the middle-class white boys? Whatever the case may be, he surely knew that his portrayal of blacks as natural thugs and whites as natural angels was going to shock a lot of people. The film is part of the retrospective In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Östlund, showing the emerging director’s work. recommended