The premise is simple but effective. Whilst on a skiing holiday, a seemingly perfect Swedish family avoid getting hit by an avalanche. The impact of the near miss is almost as catastrophic as if the avalanche had hit. In the immediate aftermath, the previously portrayed alpha male father appears to grab his iPhone and runs for his life rather than stay with his family. The remainder of the film examines the impact of that, not without considerable humour, albeit on the blacker side. There were a surprising number of communal laugh out loud moments, despite the subject matter. It looks at the roles of parents and the expectations and relationships of men and women when the kids arrive, without being preachy or moralistic.
It is a beautiful looking but slightly hideous sounding film. The director made his name directing high octane extreme skiing movies and captures the action on the slopes with huge drama. He bleaches out shots and brings them back from white and black screens. He invests the sound of mountain with a very different sensibility though. The ski-lifts grind and jolt loudly. The maintenance vehicles blast the snow around the slopes and explosions and thunderstorms abound. The only memorable soundtrack is an accordion based version of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” which repeats through the film (Yeah I know).
This really was a great intelligent movie and what added to the experience (apart from it being our first date night in ages) was the venue. The Arthouse in Crouch End, North London is a former Salvation Army Music Hall that has been put to good use. There are two screens, both of which have less than one hundred seats – we were in the larger screen and that was tiny. It had great coffee, ice cream and a good selection of beer and wine. They host live music and comedy events, have local art for sale in the foyer and even have a regular chocolate tasting club! It was voted Time Out Cinema of the Year 2014 by its readers. We will definitely be going back soon.
Anyway, either try and get to a cinema near you for “Force Majeure” or put it on the “to be watched on DVD/Streaming” list. In the meantime, we are going to look out some of Ruben Ostland’s earlier films.