'Tommy': Montreal Review
A wife exerts control over a male-dominated crime world
MONTREAL — A cold Swedish crime film whose central gangster controls the action without ever showing his face, Tarik Saleh's Tommy is in fact the story of the title character's wife Estelle (Moa Gammel), who comes back to Stockholm after a post-heist exile and uses the prospect of Tommy's return to control his old associates. A study of the woman's will that patiently sets the scene before offering any action, it will appeal to fans of Scandinavian crime fiction at Stateside fests; the presence of singer Lykke Li in a supporting role will help draw attention from outside the usual crowd.
First-timer Lykke Li is perfectly capable as Blanca, the younger sister who, since Tommy and Estelle jumped town in the wake of a high-profile score, has been seduced by Tommy's associate Bobby (Ola Rapace); not content with Tommy's sister-in-law, Bobby has asserted control over his old turf and may be spending his share of the money they stole. Estelle visits him to say it's time to pay: Tommy's about to come home, and if Bobby doesn't settle up with her before he arrives — a million Euros by Tuesday — there'll be hell to pay.
Opening scenes are just ambiguous enough for us to wonder if Tommy, whose reputation clearly inspires fear in the Stockholm underworld, is actually alive in his Sri Lanka hideout. Estelle was carrying human ashes when she reentered the country: Were those a clever way of getting police to stop their manhunt, or is she just trying to bluff her way into a gang-wife's pension? Even viewers who're sure they know the answer should appreciate watching Gammel test the nerve of a character who until now has been just "the wife."
Making the poker game more interesting is a fatherly older gangster, Johan Rabaeus's Steve, whose interest in preserving the balance of power may be less benevolent than it seems. Though his heroine is anxious to take care of business, urgently nudging her sister to get with the program, Saleh doesn't rush; we move calmly through a city decorated for Christmas, its children and its criminals all waiting for a man whose impending visit, real or not, might be enough to get them to behave for a while.
Production company: Tordenfilm AS
Cast: Moa Gammel, Ola Rapace, Lykke Li Zackrisson, Alexej Manvelov, Johan Rabaeus, Inez Bruckner
Director: Tarik Saleh
Screenwriter: Anton Hagwall
Producer: Kristina Aberg
Executive producers: Malte Forssell, Moa Gammel, Lars Rodvaldr, Tarik Saleh
Director of photography: Carl Nilsson
Production designer: Roger Rosenberg
Costume designer: Sofie Krunegard
Editors: Linda Jildmalm, Dino Jonsater, Theis Schmidt
Music: Martin Landquist
Sales: AB Svensk Filmindustri
No rating, 93 minutes