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Monday, December 15, 2014

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Force Majeure

ForceMajeureA split-second decision drives a wedge between a married couple in the Swedish drama Force Majeure.  Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) is on a ski trip in the French Alps, with his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and two children Vera and Harry.  On the second day of their trip, while having lunch at a mountain restaurant, the family watches as an avalanche speeds towards the restaurant.  With the avalanche appearing like it’s going to hit them, Tomas ends up running for his life, leaving his wife and kids behind.  Even though everything turns out to be alright, Ebba has major issues with Tomas’ act of cowardice, as well as his reluctance to admit that he did anything wrong.  Over the course of the remainder of the ski trip, the couple re-evaluates the state of their relationship.

Force Majeure is a darkly comic drama, which tackles the moral implications of an individual’s survival instinct.  The film tackles the question of if you find yourself in imminent danger, are you more likely to save yourself or help out your loved ones?  On the surface, this question seems like it would be an easy one to answer, however Force Majeure shows that things are much more complicated.

At the core of the film is the battle of the sexes between Tomas and his wife Ebba.  Tomas is insistent that he did nothing wrong during the avalanche, while Ebba is absolutely shocked that he would just abandon her and their children.  Taking place over the course of five days, Force Majeure examines how the dynamic between Tomas and Ebba changes, through the repetition of their daily routines.  They go from quite loving at the start of trip, to practically distant towards the end.  Without saying too much, the film resolves with a highly ironic situation, which brings everything full circle.

The key sequence in Force Majeure is an extended conversion between Tomas and Ebba and their friends Mats (Kristofer Hivju) and Fanni (Fanni Metelius).  Happening at about the midway point of the story, it here where Ebba lays all of her grievances about Tomas’ decision on the table, with Mats trying to intellectually rationalize the event.  The scene is a good demonstration of how Force Majeure balances drama and comedy, particularly with an absolutely hilarious tension-breaking event.  The scene also seems to insinuate that Tomas’ act was a “male response” to the situation, especially when Fanni begins to have doubts of how Mats would react to a similar scenario.

Despite there being some weird divergences (a sudden rave scene comes to mind), Force Majeure turned out to be a very interesting morality drama, which goes into issues surrounding gender and survival instincts.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).