Overlooked Film of the Week-#97
"Force Majeure," a Swedish movie directed by Ruben Ostlund, dissects those questions and asks them to a happy family who have gone on a ski trip in the Alps. On the second day of their vacation, they watch as an avalanche begins coming down the mountain. Sometimes, ski resorts will set off avalanches to make the park safer and probably for other reasons I don't know. Growing up, my family was a big ski family. I skied for a couple years, then decided snowboarding looked cooler and I did that until we stop going. I remember one year skiing in Colorado, hearing big booms across the resort we stayed at. It is not uncommon for resorts to do this.
So as this nice, cute family watches this avalanche coming down the mountain, they begin to notice that it is getting awfully close to the building they are eating at. Everybody panics and begins to run away. Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsil), the family's mother, grips the kids and holds on tight. Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), the family's father, runs for his life. The screen is covered in white for a few minutes when we realize it was a false alarm, the avalanche does not come crashing into the building. (No, "Force Majeure" is NOT a disaster movie.) Everybody begins to make it back to the table, including Tomas.
The rest of the movie focuses on Ebba and Tomas. Ebba feels betrayed that Tomas fled their family while Ebba stayed behind, not making much of an effort to make sure his family was okay. As she tells their friends this story, Tomas is in complete denial. Tomas claims that he did not run away, and this difference in perspectives slowly begins to tear this family apart. Not only that, but the story begins to infect the family's friends who are skiing too, as their friends begin to debate what they would do in such a situation. There is almost a battle wills between Ebba and Tomas that becomes infectious to the audience, at least it did so for me.
The work by Lisa Loven Kongsil and Johannes Kuhnke are incredible. Even though this is a foreign title and you will need to read subtitles in order to understand what they are talking about, "Force Majeure" is totally worth it to see two actors throw down. I can't tell you a thing about either performers merits, but they create a couple on the brink of disaster and it is instantly believable. Anybody who has gone through any type of rough patch with their significant other will be able to relate to the performances these two actors put on, and its pretty amazing how both actors can be sincere and funny towards their kids then at each other's throats during another scene. Truly astounding work.
Plus, the look of the Alps in high definition is breath-taking, and the cinematography by Fredrik Wenzel is nothing to wince at.
"Force Majeure" is currently on Netflix, and it is definitely worth checking out.