REVIEW: Force Majeure

23 11 2014

Force MajeureAfter beginning with some dreary exposition, Ruben Östlund’s “Force Majeure” really gets going when a manufactured avalanche spirals out of control onto the porch of a French ski resort’s restaurant.  Among the dining patrons are the maritally dissatisfied Tomas and Ebba, along with their two children.  When the torrent of snow comes barreling towards them, a “fight or flight” response activates in Tomas, who quickly grabs his phone and gloves before darting for cover.

Given the rockiness of their marriage before the vacation, which was ironically planned to bring the family closer together, the incident puts even more stress on Tomas and Ebba’s relationship.  “Force Majeure” milks this microcosmic moment for all the drama it can … and then the film continues on for another hour.  Östlund beats the same tired drum over and over, never really finding the profound statement about marriage that he seeks.  At one point, he even shifts for nearly ten minutes to two peripheral characters to have them talk through the event in question, only to come to no greater understanding.

Strangely, the film’s most intriguing aspects have little to do with Tomas and Ebba.  Undercurrents of technology as an inhibitor of intimacy, the liberating potential of defying monogamy, and the omnipresence of a voyeuristic help staff held far more promise than the main storyline of “Force Majeure.”  The austere fighting between the couples just runs in circles around the real issues when they really just needed to take the gloves off and duke it out, “Revolutionary Road” style.  C+2stars

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