January 27, 2015

Force Majeure

Ruben Ostlund, 2014
Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are on holiday in the French Alps with their two children. While eating lunch on an outdoor deck, they hear an explosion and a sudden avalanche starts to fall quickly from the mountain. At first Tomas reassures the family that it's controlled and there is nothing to worry about. But when it gets so close to the deck that other patrons begin to flee, Tomas panics and runs away leaving his family behind. It turns out to be a controlled avalanche as originally suspected, and when it clears Tomas returns to the table of his shocked and shaken family.

Critics of this movie could say that it takes a premise and beats it to death. They could say things like "okay, we get it. The guy screwed up, let's get over it and move on. Who knows how someone would have reacted in that situation. Either way, is it worth dedicating a whole film to analyzing it?". But the response to that would be a simple yes. It's a premise that's analyzed meticulously, and should be. It's an event that is so quick, but so powerful. It NEEDS to be examined thoroughly. Husband and wife, boy and girl, we play certain roles in the relationship. There are functioning dynamics at work. They are different in every relationship, sure. Especially in our modern feminist society. But most women would say that they want to be with a man that will protect them in the face of trouble. Furthermore, they WITHOUT A DOUBT want to be with someone that will put their life on the line for their family. That's almost a given. And as we are shown with this particular film, those moments come on quickly. You don't have time to prepare yourselves for them. Your reaction needs to be automatic. Unfortunately for Tomas, his automatic reaction was to get up and flee his family. Call him selfish, self absorbed, cowardly. He's certainly those things. Within a matter of minutes, their life went from a happy lunch on the deck to the faults of their marriage being exposed and vulnerable. And not only is Tomas' selfishness exposed, his complete stubbornness to the aftermath of the situation is exposed. Ebba tries to brush it off and move on and not ruin their holiday, but she realizes soon that it's impossible. We have all been in those situations, where some conflict arises in the middle of a vacation or dinner out or something, and you attempt to let it go and move on. Often you can, but not in this particular situation. Tomas and Ebba's marriage clearly has a certain facade quality to it. To an outsider it probably looks like the perfect nuclear family. But as the layers are exposed you soon see that there is a coldness, a lack of intimacy between the two. A lot of it probably has to do with the daily grind of raising children while juggling a career. But when we see Ebba's interest peak when she discovers her friends open relationship, that there is also a certain curiosity of people outside the marriage. What transpires is a delicately balanced black comedy with tones of insecurity, an examination on marriage dynamics and the roles we play, and the role of whats supposed to be a dominant masculine father. It is so interesting to think of one singular event occurring and completely disassembling a good marriage. It's quite possible that nobody could handle that particular concept better than Ruben Ostlund. 

No comments:

Post a Comment