Getting in over your head is the theme that makes The Counselor (2013) and Easy Money (2010) a natural pair in the noir genre. What I particularly like is the sense of reality the filmmakers establish. While there is violence and suspense, nothing is over the top. A sense of “this could happen” permeates the atmosphere.
The Counselor has the help of genuinely heavy hitters in the talent department. Ridley Scott directed the story created by Cormac McCarthy. Primary roles were filled by Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Javier Barden, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt, some of them giving better than usual performances. Supporting roles were also given to serious talent — Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo, Reubén Blades among them.
The story, largely set in Mexico, involves a huge shipment of cocaine. The smuggling is ingenious, and certainly profitable. Everyone could walk away from a cleverly planned drug deal with a nice piece of the action and live happily ever after. However one guy thinks he has a better idea, and greed — sin or not — turns out to be as deadly as people say it is.
In Easy Money, the cast is Swedish. This may be why we don’t have to overcome the celebrity that is so prevalent in The Counselor. The acting is just as good. And we in North America are becoming somewhat familiar with the talented Joel Kinnamen. (He was in a remake of Robocop and in “The Killing.”) The Kinnamen character is living above his station but longs to be accepted by a snobbishly rich clique. His expensive role-playing is difficult to maintain on the income of a part-time taxi driver. He decides to step up his income by engaging in cocaine trafficking and then, because he is quite clever, he helps a Yugoslavian mob boss launder the profits. He almost finds a way to fit in with those born into wealth. And he believes he’s indispensible to the drug lord he serves. But he’s as much out of his league with the long-landed gentry as he is with professional thugs. As it turns out he’s a decent guy, a quality that hinders his full access to the worlds he wants to enter. Daniel Espinosa directed Easy Money, based on the novel of the same name by Jens Lapidus. Matias Varela and Dragomir Mrsic co-starred. On a funny but all too-true note, one critic praised the Swedish film for not including a “tired old inspector” in the cast of characters.
For an accompaniment to the evening, you can choose something to enhance the warm climate of Mexico. Tequila perhaps or a Corona. If you are more inclined to think Swede, why not have Sweden’s vodka, Absolut? Or some cider?