Film Review: FORCE MAJEURE

Force Majeure
Written and Directed by Ruben Ostlund
Starring: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Kongsli

A Swedish family is on a ski vacation. They are enjoying lunch at an outdoor restaurant when it appears that an avalanche is rushing toward them. The father (Johannes Kuhnke) tells the family it is a controlled avalanche but moments later changes his mind, picks up his cell phone, and takes off. His wife (Kongsli) stays with the children under their table. (This was an extremely frightening scene, beautifully put together).

Two things happen as a result of this incident: the father cannot admit he ran away and his wife cannot let go of both his failure to protect the family and his unwillingness to admit his cowardice. The rest of the film details their family splintering under the weight of this standoff.

Some of the scenes play as a black comedy and others read as true tragedy. The ending has an ambivalence that the director (Ruben Ostlund) is known for. I might have preferred it to end one scene earlier. But ambivalence is a credible ending too.

This is truly memorable film that deals with how we disappoint each other and how, if possible, we forgive both others and ourselves.

Patti Abbott

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