Force Majeure review: a crowd-pleasing, chatter-generating thriller

Force Majeure displays the kind of bitter disputes that can only happen in close families

Film Title: Force Majeure

Director: Ruben Östlund

Starring: Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergre, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 120 min

Thu, Apr 9, 2015, 13:44

   

Swedish director Ruben Östlund follows up the superb, criminally overlooked Play (2011) with this crowd-pleasing, Oscar-nominated, chatter-generating thriller. We say thriller: but don’t expect The French Connection.

Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke, squirming impressively) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli, wronged and she knows it) are a middle-class couple holidaying with their two young children at a luxury resort in the French Alps. On the second day of their vacation, a controlled avalanche gets a little uncontrolled. No one is physically hurt. But Tomas’s response – he grabs his mobile phone, almost topples his pre-school son and leaves the family behind – rather spoils the mood of the trip.

Ebba soon starts hitting the wine and telling both acquaintances and strangers about her husband’s callous actions; Tomas denies any wrongdoing. Old friends take sides causing even more domestic discord.

Force Majeure isn’t afraid to take odd excursions into fantasy or to introduce characters (Hello, Brady Corbet!) that we never see again.

At its best, however, it is jollied along by the kind of bitter disputes that can only happen in close families. There are endless recriminations, icy looks, conversations that go around and around to no end, and, most of all, there is the excruciating sense of being stuck in a room with married people who are, figuratively, taking lumps out of each other.

DOP Fredrik Wenzel’s sublime snowscapes and an eventful denouement provide the icing and a cherry for a wicked confection. See it, then fight about it.