Movie: Force Majeure
My Rating: 3 stars
What a nightmare! This is the kind of movie that makes you never want to get married. It illustrates the joyless chore that marriage becomes once you’ve had kids, and are no longer trying to be attracted (or attractive) to your spouse. It’s not a story about getting old. The movie features plenty of active, foxy cougars and silver foxes who are getting out there and making magic happen. And, it’s not a story about losing one’s looks. Both of the main characters are still very Scandinavian and beautiful, despite being established parents. Even though the plot purports to be about something else, I think the underlying story about letting the passion go. And, the filmmaker (Ruben Ostlund) captures that soul-killing tension very well. These characters aren’t men and women any more—they’re “parents.” But of course, that means that this movie is a real chore to watch.
A photogenic Swedish family is on a ski vacation. But, you can tell it’s one of those obligation vacations. It’s a “this is what families are supposed to do, right?” vacation. No one is quite willing to admit that they aren’t having a good time. They’re going through the motions, but you can see the cracks starting to form at the edges of the façade. And of course, those cracks are split wide open once the “incident” happens. It’s the whole premise of the movie, so I don’t have to be coy about telling you about it. The family is enjoying one those hearty hot lunches that are great after a morning of skiing, when an avalanche starts barreling down the hill, straight toward them. Everyone is frightened, and tries to get to safety, but the dad in this family panics, and just takes off without trying to protect his family. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Everyone was trying to scatter. But, it was just the excuse this couple needed to start addressing the real issues in their marriage.
So, this is a movie about two people bickering. They attack each other’s value as members of their gender, as protectors of their family, and as emotional supports. They argue in their hotel room. They argue in hushed tones in the hallways. And worst of all, they argue (at full volume) in front of other couples during meals. It’s so cringeworthy. You’ll want to just shrink into your chair and disappear. It’s really not the kind of thing you’d ever want to watch with someone you’re romantically involved with (or want to be romantically involved with). And, the movie has a little bit of fun with that idea—having other couples start to question their own relationships after witnessing this meltdown. You might question whether you really want to see the movie at all. But, it really is very well done. The tension is thick as molasses. And, you can really feel the hatred start to bubble up between these two people. But, just pick the right occasion (and right viewing partner) if you do decide to go ahead with this one.