Although one of the best films of the year, I would strongly warn that Force Majeure might be the best date movie of choice. The movie surrounds a situation that should initiate conversation around “What would you do?” if put in the same situation.
It all starts innocently enough at a ski resort in the French Alps where Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are enjoying lunch with their two children when the unexpected happens. As an avalanche advances towards the resort, the couple have two different reactions. But when the avalanche proves to be of no danger to the couple, their individual actions and the fights and discussions around these choice movements are what propels Force Majeure through its final act.
No one can really say for certain what behavior they would develop in the time of crisis. We all want to believe that we would be the one that protects their friends and family – possibly even risking one’s own life while enacting such bravery. But what if your self-preservation mode was the dominant security measure activated at the time of crisis. What then?
Writer/director Ruben Ostlund takes us down that philosophical rabbit hole in facing the music after an action that might be considered cowardous. Tomas’ actions were not par with someone riding on a pale colored horse. And maybe if Thomas wasn’t so defensive about his reaction his relationship with Ebba would not be so challenged. But due to Thomas’ self-preservation, moral and philosophical questions and opinions will abound and his role as a father, a husband and a man are all pulled into theoretical question.
Force Majeure premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this spring where it was met with unanimous critical acclaim. It continues on the festival circuit having played the Toronto International Film Festival and now can be seen as part of the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. It is a wonderfully shot film with breathtaking landscape and a setting that is both beautiful and ominously dangerous at the same time. Many scenes were captured so beautifully or exactly that the film had the look of a precision made Kubrick effort. The actors are all perfectly cast and each character journey is realistic and challenging in scope.
The internal questions that Force Majeure might bring upon oneself makes us long to be a fly in the car on the ride home from the theatre. We could sit through a documentary of couples explaining how they would react under the same circumstances or listen to families discuss how Tomas and Ebba reacted and break down their subsequent arguments as if they had the opportunity to play Freud in a therapy session.
Force Majeure is one of the best films of the year. Challenging, provocative and creatively funny and humorous through the voyage. I would definitely recommend Force Majeure as a ‘must-see’, but you may want to watch it on your own first so that you get your story straight.