Ben Oliver

Banner image for Force Majeure

Force Majeure

There’s nothing in your head that you haven’t said!
15 February 2015

When faced with death in an avalanche, a man chooses to run rather than save his family. When the event turns out to be harmless, he has to answer to his family and friends.

This is an awkward film to watch at times. Imagine the premise, then imagine the conversations that must stem from such an event. Throw in the fact that the man is in denial of his actions and is made to watch a video of himself running away, and you’ve got a recipe for some truly cringeworthy moments.

Force Majeure is set in the aseptic world of a ski resort. This isolates the action and the characters, and as a result every small emotion and gesture is felt more intensely. A small noise can trigger an avalanche, and the precarious feeling is cleverly mirrored in the script.

Two very strong lead performances drive the film forwards, backed up by some fantastic cinematography. Ostlund manages to make every frame look great whilst not letting snazzy shots get in the way of the drama.

The final few scenes seem to give off some mixed messages, I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but it does let the film down.

Force Majeure had me squirming in my seat yet kept me transfixed. It’s a beautiful film that asks a lot of questions about a man’s role in a family, the meaning of masculinity, and how people are expected to act in the face of death.

Reply by email