Force Majeure: DVD Review
Cast: Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Vincent Wettergren, Clara Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius
Director: Ruben Ostlund
What would you do?
In the latest film from the Nordic provinces, it's the big question that faces the head of a family after an incident at a ski resort during a week's vacation.
It's all going well for the family on her holiday; mum and dad, two kids, the perfect piste and pristine snow and weather. But on day two, at lunch, when a controlled avalanche heads towards the family, Tomas (Kuhnke) panics, and runs leaving the family to fend for themselves, much to the horror of his wife and screaming two children.
When the snow powder clears, it becomes obvious that all is not well with the family and Tomas begins to feel the consequence of his actions.
Force Majeure is brilliantly filmed, with the extreme whites of the snow and the mountains framing the piercing problems ahead.
Kuhnke gives a performance that's as head-scratching as it is thought provoking - it's unlikely anyone watching this wouldn't throw a few thoughts over what they may do and how instinctive the survival gene actually is.
As the film slowly plays out, the creeping tension is almost unbearable and ironically, very little actually happens on screen, but Ostlund makes great fist of the locations (hotel corridors, the mountains, the close up shots) to convey a sense of dread not felt in a snow-set hotel since The Shining.
It's a film of psychological terror, yet it remains distinctly recognisable and humanly possible thanks to some humour at some oddly placed moments. Touches like these elevate Force Majeure into the realms of something truly different as the serenely and quietly terrifying tale progresses.
The only thing letting it down is the ending which seems at odds with what's gone before - a glimpse into the abyss has been offered and it's almost as if those in charge were too scared to stare too deeply within for fear of what it may say about us.