Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, 2014): France | Sweden

Reviewed by Justin Richard. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016.

imgresHow an avalanche metaphorically and literally has the negative Force Majeure upon a family vacation in the Swedish Mountain Resort. Ruben Östlund the director and writer of the film designs a story to have psychodramatic plot. The father (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), and mother (Lisa Loven Kongsli) first present their marriage close and well structured.

The introduction of the movie designs a setting of a well established family: financially, physically, and mentally. They are located within a ski resort loaded with an appealing interior mostly made of wood. The surroundings of the family was equipped with modern furnishings, ski equipment, and clothing. Furthermore, the family was in good shape. There is scenes of the father and mother in the bathroom half clothed revealing their body shape which is toned and well fit. Similarly, the son and daughter are the same as the viewer can see their physical health by the energy they have. Lastly, the family is close and responds to one another with trust. Another scene shows the family all in one large bed together resting after a day on the slopes and when they are skiing, it is together.

Correspondingly, the story continues of the happy family until one scene sets the story’s plot, the avalanche. They are all sitting together eating outside at the lodge as an explosion occurs creating a controlled avalanche. All the customers including the family think nothing of it as it is normal for the ski resort to create avalanches. However, this avalanche appeared safe at first; but, then having an overpowering force is created the illusion it would whip out every person eating outside the lodge. It was an analogy of the psychological problem that occurs later within the family.

The avalanche started off as small, having only the customers view it as entertainment. They take photos and look at it from the distance. The snow rumbles and becomes bigger and moves faster down the mountain. People then view the snow as a potential threat after time creating panic. This is where plot of the story occurs, as the father apparently ran off grabbing his cell phone leaving the mother and children behind. However, once the white mist hits the customers it was only a false scare, no one was hurt, and there was no real danger.

The problem of the family started off small. The mother upset thinking of the father was only caring about himself where he would rather choose to save himself than protect his beloved family. Later, the married couple goes out to dinner with another couple. The couple not being married where the man is much older than the women. Also, the man having his own kids where they did not stay with him in the ski resort. The mother announces the incident of the avalanche. At first, it appeared to be funny and thrilling to hear the conversation, but she then states how her husband ran away abandoning her and the kids during the occurrence. The feeling twists to awkwardness and rude emotion. The problem now grows.

Later within the story, the family now begins to ski on their own. Scenes start to appear of one another crying. A psychological mental wall increases its size just as the avalanche expanded its mass as it rumbled further and further down the mountain. Another scene occurs where the same couple at dinner sees the mother and father in there room within the hotel to have drinks and socialize. During the gathering, the avalanche incident is brought up again by the mother creating a stronger emotion of awkwardness. It was annoying to see a problem spiral out of control where articulation was an easy cure but was obliterated. By the end of the scene, the father was shot alone to cry.

Nevertheless, more scenes correlate and their psychological avalanche increases to a point they thought could not be stopped. But, just like the avalanche they thought was life threatening it was only an illusion. Their problem was just the same. They believed the problem was going to kill their marriage as the kids speculated they were going to divorce. However, the ending of the film shows great irony proving all humans make mistakes. A problem that could have been controlled spiralled into a huge issue creating an illusion that it was not stoppable. The conclusion of the film will reveal how the entire situation was nothing but an ironic spoof. It was only a false family avalanche.

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