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You will view this film with a very different set of emotions depending on whether you are a father or not. Fathers are in continuous peril of losing their status as their children’s hero, with the wives usually being alerted much sooner to the fact that the swashbuckling hero is but mortal, and flawed.

The father of the family depicted in “Force Majeur” gets under severe suspicion of being a coward, running away from an avalanche and “forgetting” to take his family (while not forgetting top pick up his phone). The DVD audience will immediately jump back to the crucial scene checking whether the accusations are right, or whether his memory of the story “not being like that” is more right. Not that it really matters: the atmosphere between husband and wife is spoiled, and this tension does not seem to dissipate over the next couple of days. To the contrary – his supposed refusal to admit to his error of judgement (or flaw of character, if you prefer) leads to the wife getting on a downward spiral of despise and refusal. Bringing in some friends to spend a couple of days with them does not help, they are merely abused as leverage in the relationship game.

After “Gone Girl” this is the next instance within a short time where a film depicts the dark side of family life, of marriage. There is no resolution to be seen, the only way out seems to be for both of the partners to swallow their pride and get on with it. What a pleasant prospect.

The backdrop of the French mountains is splendid to illustrate the indifference of nature to all those emotional and strategic games those tiny and ridiculous humans are playing. And who ever went to a skiing resort will recognise the particular soundtrack of skiing, the clunking of heavy boots on bathroom tiles, the crunching of snow when walking on skis, the soft whooooosh of fresh powder snow, and the sound of engines and of silence while a lift drags you up a hill. Whenever scenes play outside, there is plenty of beauty to be seen, a beauty about to be abused by those nice middle class people to play their petty games in front of.

As if the absurdity of peaceful family life wasn’t enough, the film’s finale also adds some absurd theatre in the form of a very strange bus ride, which generations of at least Swedish film students will analyse for its meaning…

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/force_majeure_2014/

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One Comment

  1. Loved this one, and I agree there is an absurdity to the story. Interesting how you can put yourself in the shoes of the husband and contemplate how you would have reacted in a similar situation. Plus it has the “worst man cry” scene ever put in a movie 🙂

    (SPOILER: The ending, for me the wife deliberately “got lost” in the snow storm so her husband could “rescue” her. To me it was not a heroic masculine moment but her manipulating the situation so he felt heroic and the kids perceived him as brave. I might be wrong, that’s my interpretation of the scene. And apparently the bus scene is inspired by a youtube video which the director talked about here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z2UYLTsPwY


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