Force Majeure

We join a Swedish family on a skiing holiday in the French Alps. It's clear that this is a happy bunch, a father, mother, son and daughter. While eating lunch on a scenic balcony, an avalanche suddenly transforms their lives.

Director Ruben Östlund, working from his own script, brings us two hours of R-rated drama, as he explores the dynamics of bravery, sincerity, love and loyalty as they are brought into play by a potential natural disaster. I am in awe as I watch these people switch effortlessly from Swedish to French to English with nary a pause (captions provided when necessary).

We watch:
  • Johannes Kuhnke as the father, Tomas. This is the first vacation he has had in quite awhile. Five whole days...but that avalanche interrupts everything. His first instinct is for survival, to his everlasting regret.
  • Lisa Loven Kongsli is Ebba, the mother. She has been looking forward to this family vacation, but when disaster strikes, her first instinct is to protect her youngsters.
  • Sister and brother Clara and Vincent Wettergren portray sister and brother Vera and Harry. They begin looking askance at their father and worrying about a possible divorce.
  • Kristofer Hivju plays Mats as a classic Viking, he is an old friend of Tomas and sees himself as sensitive and loyal.
  • Fanni Metelius is Fanny who humorously points out the fallacy in Mats' reasoning.
To a non-skiing person, the staggering amount of heavy machinery necessary to maintain a successful ski resort is astonishing. As are the steady booms of cannons which are designed to trigger avalanches during the night and leave the slopes safe for the customers during the day.

Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and nominated for many other honors, this highly praised film is just opening in the United States. (The original title of this film is "Turist.") In my opinion, the ending will be very gender specific. Each gender will interpret this enigmatic ending in very definite (but different) ways.
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Take a look at the trailer:
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