A controlled avalanche at a skiing resort nearly goes wrong and the father of an IKEA-perfect family, rather than save his kids, runs away; this leads to a psychological ‘avalanche’ in the family. The film’s genius is that it plays so well on that knife’s edge where excessive melodrama builds scenes to their extreme comic breaking point. Similar to Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago but leans far more towards comedy.
Rarely you'll witness a more thorough dissection of a family's core, when faced with matters like dissolving trust and unattended, ever-amplifying tensions. I can only think of Jonathan Franzen's book, "Corrections" as a worthy parallel. Force Majeure may be hard to watch at times, but that only proves its spot-on rendition of the human soul left without any defense at all.
Many beautiful elements in this film, but doesn't quite add up. In fact, it almost put me to sleep, and I watched it in the middle of the day. The advert for the film called it "wickedly funny"; I wouldn't say that. It wasn't very funny at all. It was sad, in an everyday sort of way.
The razor thin ties that bind people come unraveling in a split-second instant of stark transparency. Whether by colossal force or merely a poor choice of words, when the veil of artifice flutters aside, we are left gawping at the house of cards we've built for ourselves. The austere cinematography is a cruel accomplice, framing our hapless protagonists with comically cool detachment. Bracing and droll.
1/ As a woman you'll think "Guys? All cowards" 2 / As a man you'll think "Chicks? so complicated & never satisfied" 3 / You planned to skii this winter? Go instead to Morocco or Senegal. 1/ Vous êtes une femme, vous penserez "Les mecs? Des lâches & des salauds" 2/ Vous êtes un homme, vous penserez "Les nanas? Compliquées & jamais contentes" 3/ Vous aviez envie de skier cet hiver? Allez plutôt au Maroc ou au Sénégal.
Sweden these days seems to reflect a lot about gender roles. I couldn't help watching the film thinking about that. The premise is quite interesting. But does it translate a Swedish angst (1), or is it more of an universal thing (2) about roles? If (1), did the Swedish get their first? The whole masculinist trend seems to put this film in a very interesting context. (Some) men, now, seem awfully aware of their roles.
Östlund directs like a genial, less hectoring Haneke. His style is studied & controlled. Color, composition, editing & sound are impeccable, establishing a feeling of antiseptic middle-class anxiety; an empty going-through-the-motions depiction of modern life comparable to Archipelago by J. Hogg. Here the popular "comedy of embarrassment" trope merges with the spirit of Buñuel without becoming nasty or mean-spirited.
The problem with these European thesis films is that everything about them is built for it, forgetting the antithesis, presenting us always an incomplete synthesis for the lack of a contradiction that could make it "breath". This is not the most self-centered one and features frames in the nature that show a polite look for beauty. But there it is: too polite. The plot is simplistically round.