A Swedish families skiing holiday gets derailed. Badly.
Force Majeure is brilliant and you should go see it immediately.
Do you need to know more than that? Fine.
It’s the latest film from Swedish director Ruben Östlund and it’s about what happens when a moment of danger threatens a young family. The ramifications of the actions of the mother and father are tested and interrogated and things get out of hand very quickly indeed.
While that might sound like a set up for a plodding drama, Force Majeure is anything but. It’s a quick-witted and genuinely smart film which takes the audience on a journey that I never anticipated, and it’s done with a sense of form and style which truly makes it a sight to behold.
Östlund plays out the events in a serious of improbably long takes, with perfect compositions which draw you into the drama and suspend you there. The camera follows and frames and watches, adding a voyeuristic element which makes the plentiful uncomfortable moments even more compelling. It’s a technical marvel but one which absolutely enhances the experience of watching the film.
One stand out moment contains a fair bit of action in the frame but it’s still all played out from a single angle in one shot. I don’t know of another director who would have the audacity to play out a moment on this scale without a cut but its masterfully done and forms one of the most critical moments in a film which is often about interrogating the lies we tell ourselves.
I would say that Östlund is the star of the piece, such is the forceful power of his directing (which earned an award at the Dublin International Film Festival recently) but his stars are also giving their all. Lisa Loven Kongsli has arguably the more difficult role as she keeps things relatively grounded but its father character Johannes Bah Kuhnke who makes the biggest impact, by turns pitiful, terrified, brazen and ridiculous.
Oh yes, the film is also outrageously funny at times – especially if you’re a fan of watching those moments where people really should stop talking but can’t. It shifts in tone from serious to hilarious and shoots off to utterly random just enough to keep the audience on edge, making it hard to guess exactly where things are going to end up.
To end where I began – Force Majeure is brilliant and you should go see it immediately.