Force Majeure, Blu-ray (2014/15)
Director: Ruben Ostlund
Actors: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Kristofer Hivju
Studio: Arte/ Magnolia Home Entertainment [2/10/15]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: Swedish, English, French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Extras: Interview with director & actor Kuhnke, AXS TV: A Look at Force Majeure, Previews
Length: 119 min.
It’s like you are doing the skiing holiday along with a happy Swedish family in the French Alps. The handsome businessman husband looks like a Swedish version of Keifer Sutherland, the wife is willowy, and they have two small blond children, a boy and a girl. While beginning to eat lunch in the sun at an outdoor restaurant at the ski club, a spectacular avalanche suddenly bears down on them. The husband runs off with his smart phone and keys, leaving the family behind. This shakes his marriage to its core and during the rest of the film he struggles to get back his position as patriarch of the family.
Many of the reviews talk about it being frostily funny; I didn’t think it was funny at all. Director Ostlund got the idea from seeing a YouTube video of an actual similar avalanche that nearly innudated an outdoor restaurant. The one in the film was done with green screen and special EFX. There is much discussion of how when faced with pure survival, men often make themselves first and never mind those around them. The avalanche occurrence festers inside the family, causing all sorts of subtle problems. The husband denies he ran away, which doesn’t help a bit. His wife is of course disgusted by his attitude. Their acting is absolutely believeable.
For the non-skier, the big machinery needed at a popular ski resort seems astounding, as is the fearful boom of the cannon which are used to trigger controlled avalanches during the night to leave the slopes safe for customers. There are a number of totally whited-out scenes (they even ski together when they cannot see one another at all but only hear the sounds), so you must get used to it. I’ll certainly never experience again my one skiing experience at Mt. Snow, Vermont, and this proved an interesting experience for me. The film ends with a very open conclusion as the passengers on the bus back down into the valley all insist on getting off and walking down because their driver seems to be driving in a most dangerous way. The director found the worst road in the world via Google, which happened to be in Northern Italy, and the precipitous curves and drops are most real.