forcemajeureWhat makes a man a man? Is it strictly anatomy or is it what you do and how you do it?

Force Majeure

What makes a man a man? Is it strictly anatomy or is it what you do and how you do it? The role of men over the last several decades has shifted dramatically but one thing remains true, or should; in the face of danger “the boy goes down and the girl goes free” - (Matt Chandler). In the Swedish film Force Majeure one man’s reaction to an event causes massive fissures in his family dynamic. And his wife may never look at him the same way again.

Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are on a family ski trip in the French Alps with their two young kids. It is a much needed vacation as Tomas has been allowing too much work to distract him from the family. It gives them all a chance to bond and enjoy some special moments. But all that quickly changes as they sit enjoying a nice afternoon lunch at a mountainside restaurant. As a seemingly normal, controlled avalanche is heading for them many take pictures and marvel at the site. It is only when it appears the avalanche is out of control and bearing straight for them does panic ensue. And that is the moment that Tomas makes a decision that will follow him the rest of the trip.

The premise of the film is fantastic and delivers an amazing question of “what would you do?”. As Tomas and Ebba dialogue after the events at the restaurant you can feel the strain and frustration that Ebba is feeling. You also have to feel a tad bit bad for Tomas as he needs to shoulder the responsibility of his actions.  But sadly as a full length feature it crashes hard. There isn’t enough weight in the script to carry it a full 90 minutes. As a short film it would have been fantastic. But as the characters hash out and then rehash over and over the same emotion it begins to feel tedious and forced.

The setting and film work is fine and you can’t beat the setting of the French Alps.  Also the fact it is in Swedish with English subtitles doesn’t hinder it but gives it more emotion. At the heart it is a film about a couple whose issues obviously stem back further than just a recent encounter with an avalanche. In fact the avalanche could be a metaphor for what was always bearing down on them. The acting is solid and you do believe the emotion. But the script just gets buried.

Force Majeure is rated R for some language and brief nudity. It is an adult film with adult dialogue. The themes and discussions would bore young people to death anyway. There is nothing lewd or crude and even the language though R rated isn’t over done. I can only give it 2 out of 5 frost bites. I would have raved about it had it been a short film that covered that one moment in a short dramatic outburst. But sadly it carries on far too long.   

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