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Force Majeure (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Force Majeure

Force Majeure


Starring Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Brady Corbet, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius, Jakob Granqvist and Malin Dahl.

Screenplay by Ruben Östlund.

Directed by Ruben Östlund.

Distributed by Magnolia Pictures.  119 minutes.  Rated R.

There is a certain symmetry in the fact that most of Ruben Östlund’s latest film, Force Majeure, revolves around an avalanche that does not quite cause disaster, but is always a looming threat.

The avalanche, beyond being a real-life threat, also ends up being symbolic of the difficulties of a forty-ish Scandinavian couple – Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) who are taking their children on a weeks retreat at an Alpine ski resort.  It appears to be little or nothing at first, gradually picking up steam and ferocity, eventually threatening to destroy all in its path.

Force Majeure is an amazing balancing act.  The film is at different points as heart-wrenching as Scenes From a Marriage, as goofy as one of the Vacation movies, terrifying and playful, all at the same time.

Tomas and Ebba probably didn’t even recognize the fissures growing between them before their life-and-death situation.  Sitting at a patio restaurant on the side of a mountain, they (and the rest of the diners) watch with bemusement as the snow starts to move down the mountain.  However the trickle builds power and speed and suddenly the diners realize that it is heading right at them.

Ebba gathers up the children, trying to find safety, and realizes that Tomas is no longer there.  The snow reaches the restaurant and causes a complete whiteout, but it turns out that the avalanche had stopped and this was just the blow back of snow.  When things finally start to return to normal, Tomas comes back.  But things will not be normal for them again any time soon.

Ebba believes Tomas had left herself and the children to die.  Tomas believes that Ebba tends to blow things out of proportion.  Both are right and both are wrong.  However, it inserts a cavernous chasm between the couple.  A mixture of guilt and rage has them rethinking their relationship.  They even drag a couple of close friends Kristofer Hivju and Fanni Metelius into the middle of the impasse.

Force Majeure tries to answer the question “Can this marriage be saved?” in some smart, funny, profound, wrenching and very offbeat ways.

There are no real simple answers here, but Force Majeure will make you think long and hard, even after it is done.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2014 All rights reserved. Posted: November 7, 2014.

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