FORCE MAJEURE IS FUN TO LOOK AT
Synopsis courtesy of IMDB: A family on a ski holiday in the French Alps find themselves staring down an avalanche during lunch one day; in the aftermath, their dynamic has been shaken to its core, with a question mark hanging over their patriarch in particular.
A family thinks they are about to lose their lives and the father can only think of saving himself, aaaaaand GO. I was pretty intrigued when I heard this as a concept for a movie.
I don’t know what I was thinking.
It seems I had overlooked the fact that the aftermath and discussion of this event (where nobody is hurt) would have to go on for 2 hours. The matriarch Ebba is naturally upset when the avalanche was racing towards them and her husband Tomas wasn’t around to lend an extra hand with the children. She has a maternal instinct and her husband is selfish as well as a piece of shit, at least that’s what I took away from this movie. This idea is perpetuated by the casual mention (multiple times) that he is work obsessed and glued to his phone. Another movie pointing to the fact that we are technology obsessed. Yipee!
Force Majeure spends 2 hours showing us a couple that had problems to begin with unravel even further. Ebba sees things one way and it seems Tomas just won’t “own” up to his actions and how awful they were. Forgive me, but I can’t really say that if an avalanche was headed my way I’d know exactly how to act. Actually, there is no way in hell you will ever find me in an area where there are “controlled avalanches.” Also, I have no freaking clue how to ski.
Ebba seems to want something from Tomas but then when he finally breaks down and balls like a newborn she insists that he calm down. I guess she just wanted to harp on this until the end of time? We even get to watch as she tortures 2 other couples with their harrowing tale. Just begging for someone to scold Tomas as she passive aggressively has been.
This movie wants to say many things in a deep and rich fashion. It tries to show us that this type of question can be central in any relationship and stir up all sorts of controversy. A family friend and his girlfriend are victims of Ebba’s strategic storytelling and later find themselves in bed for hours arguing about their trust issues. There is a side character Charlotte who is a free bird. She and her husband have an agreement which means they sleep around. She is there to remind us that there are other types of people outside of Tomas and Ebba and they may handle the avalanche situation differently. Pretty sure I could have figured that out on my own.
Ultimately, it all feels a little whiny compared to the stunning visuals. It’s as if the camera is having a love affair with snow. There are countless shots of gorgeous untouched snow that linger and they always have the “this would look good on my wall” quality. Or, I guess as a background on my phone is we’re still talking about our technology obsessed society. While, these are great and really the only reason I stuck around eventually they become tiresome. The movie depends on the “mood” from these lingering shots to create tension and scream at us “Things are bad!”
Since this isn’t a spoiler filled review I won’t even being to delve into the ending. Let’s just say if you’re on board for all the so-called meaning behind Force Majeure you’ll probably love it. If you’re like me it just invoked endless eye rolling. Not to mention it seemed like the movie was going to end countless times before that.
Final thoughts: How much did the child actors get to look sad and only scream for their mom or dad for two hours?