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FORCE MAJEURE (review)

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Written and Directed by Ruben Östlund

To say that Ruben Östlund’s FORCE MAJEURE was one of the most beloved films of 2014 would be a vast understatement. The film opened at the Cannes film festival to critical acclaim, but didn’t make its way to North American audiences until its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Both critics and audiences adored Östlund’s dark comedy, and it topped many year end best of lists. Many were shocked when FORCE MAJEURE didn’t garner an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language film category but that won’t be stopping anyone from seeing the film.

FORCE MAJEURE follows husband and wife Tomas and Ebba (Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Konsli) on their ski holiday with their two children. One morning the family is enjoying their lunch on a terrace when they hear the cannon marking the beginning of a controlled avalanche. The foursome watch as the snow drifts down the mountain ahead of them, but notice that it’s moving much closer to the restaurant than it’s supposed to. The diners panic, as Tomas makes a decision that will alter the family dynamic for the remainder of the holiday.

The film is a fascinating exploration of gender dynamics within a marriage. Its satirical commentary on masculinity would have been impossible without the excellent performance from Kuhnke. The film also features beautiful visuals from cinematographer Fredrik Wenzel.

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FORCE MAJEURE is now available on DVD and features a very interesting interview with Östlund and Kuhnke. One of the most interesting tidbits from the interview features Östlund explaining how he got the idea for the film. While the plot took a few encounters to shape, it was a YouTube video of an avalanche that launched the idea. Similarly, Kuhnke explains that it was a YouTube video called “Worst Man Cry Ever” that served as his inspiration for his breakdown scene. The second feature on the disc is a quick video that combines moments of the interview with clips from the film. Though the features may be lacking, FORCE MAJEURE is a great film and is a necessary addition to any cinephile’s DVD collection.

4 sheep

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