Force Majeure (15)

Directed byRuben Ostlund
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 10th April 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

The main problem I have with this film is the duplicity shown by director Ruben Ostlund in regard to the crucial enacted scene, of which the story and the innumerable questions which are posed following it.

A smug middle-class Swedish family, mum, dad, and two kids (of course they are a boy and a girl) are having lunch in a chalet restaurant in the French Alps, where they are taking part in a skiing holiday, when an avalanche appears to be approaching them and the rest of the diners.

Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), the dad, comments wrongly that is is a controlled avalanche, which is used to shift the snow. You see him filming the onset of the avalanche, but it peters out before it reaches the family, dwindling into mist. Moments before this occurs Tomas scarpers away with his closed smartphone and skiing gloves, leaving his family to fend for themselves. He returns to their company, as if he done no wrong in his act of apparent cowardice.

Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), his wife, has apparently filmed his act of fleeing on her smartphone, but this did not happen. No one in the family captured the scene, or anyone near them, so how can Ebba then embarrass Tomas, who steadfastly refuses to admit to deserting his family, by showing a film that does not exist, to him and two of their friend a couple of days later?

To compound the problem I have is that the viewers of Force Majeure don't actually see the sequence which they are supposedly watching.

This major discrepancy weakened the main tone of the movie, which is thirty or forty minutes too long, and kept going over the same ground, which apparently was to show how pivotal man is to the structure of a family. This viewpoint or concept is so redundant in contemporary times, but maybe not the case in so-called progressive Sweden!

Other weak points in the film - there are quite a lot - occurs near the end when a middle-aged hippy (Kristofer Hiivju), who had earlier appeared from nowhere, with his young girlfriend, to ensconce themselves in the family's cabin. On the coach journey from the ski resort to catch their flight home, the driver's erratic behaviour behind the wheel at the edge of a mountain, leads to the vehicle being stopped, following the heartfelt pleas of some of the passengers.

The hippy then demands that women and children should be let off the coach first. Do me a favour!

Earlier in the day Ebba, while the family were skiing together, apparently got lost, and in an excruciating sequence, Tomas 'boldly' goes to rescue her, returning to the two kids, with him carrying her in his arms. The status quo is restored - one big happy family again Would this be called a redemptive metaphor?!

Major plus points of Force Majeure are the awesome shots of the Alps, filmed by cinematographers Fredrik Wenzel and Fred Arne Wengeland, notably at nighttime.

At the end of the day Man, in so many ways, tries to control nature, but he/she can't control their own.

NERVE supports workers struggling for a living wage.

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