Natural disasters are unavoidable and are mostly unpredictable. The term “Force Majeure” is French, and translates to “superior force”, but also refers to an unavoidable accident. In Swedish film Force Majeure, a family of four holidaying in a ski resort experience the inevitable, that is, an avalanche. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, Force Majeure is a one-of-a-kind film that explores both the forces of nature and the intricacies of human relationships.
Johannes Bah Kuhnke plays Tomas, a businessman with his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and two children, Vera (Clara Wettergren) and Harry (Vincent Wettergren). “Force Majeure” pans out over the week that the family spends at a ski resort, documenting their time spent each day and the people they mix with. While some dull moments are to be expected, it also shows the way an ordinary family might live their lives, which could very well be a reflection of our own lives.
Kuhnke gives perhaps the most realistic performance as Tomas, a father, a husband, and a friend to other holidaymakers. As with any disaster, the human instinct would be to escape as soon as possible. But in the context of “Force Majeure”, Tomas’ acts of heroism are viewed by his wife as attempts at abandoning the family. This rattles off a chain of arguments between the couple, followed by moments of guilt and confusion that Tomas faces as he refuses to accept the reality of his immediate reaction.
As director, Ostlund balances a good mix of both comedy and drama in the film, never allowing either genre to overshadow the other. Whenever unexpected drama occurs, there will be a comedic element that follows. He gives the film steady pacing, and for a film that goes mostly without any climatic sequence, the plot development just keeps moving and there will definitely be something to pay attention to.
Having been screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize, “Force Majeure” is surely a film that one can and should look forward to. Right now, the only big screen airing this is The Projector, where the Swedish Film Festival 2016 is set to take place this weekend. Unfortunately, the two screenings of “Force Majeure” have since been sold out, but be sure to check out all the other films on offer!
“Force Majeure” will be screened at The Projector on Thursday, 28 January as part of the Swedish Film Festival 2016. Buy your tickets to the festival here.
Directed by: Ruben Östlund
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Running time: 120 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
In Swedish, English, and French with English subtitles.