Watched Force Majeure (2014), the second film I see by Swedish director Ruben Östlund1, who recently won his second Palme d'Or for Triangle of Sadness (2022).
In a nutshell, it's a drama/black comedy about a Swedish family's ski vacation in the French Alps. In the midst of breathtaking shots of snowy peaks and to the sound of ominous classical music (when music isn't cut off by controlled avalanche explosions), events unfold that threaten the couple's relationship, and raise questions about masculinity and parenthood.
The Alps is the perfect setting for the film, it has a heaviness and rawness that seem to almost physically weigh on the family. Heavy machinery (snow groomers, snow cannons) is used frenetically throughout the night so tourists can have a relaxing experience during the day. Shots are beautiful and I wasn't surprised to learn that Östlund started out making ski films before getting into cinema.
I really liked to read about how some of the inspiration for the film was found... on YouTube. "Worst man cry ever" and "Idiot Spanish busdriver almost kills students" (to name a few) don't seem to have a lot in common, but Östlund saw genuine (and yes, weird) human interactions in them that he wanted to reflect in his film.
Nothing more to say here besides watch the movie (it's on MUBI France for another 9 days). And after that, if you want to read more about it, here's some nice takes:
- Manhood against marriage (Francine Prose, The New York Review Of Books). Digs into the film's considerations about masculinity
- Cannes 2014. Ruben Östlund's "Force Majeure" (Daniel Kasman, MUBI Notebook). Bit more on the cinematic aspects of the movie
- Interview: Ruben Östlund and Johannes Bah Kuhnke on the YouTube Inspirations for “Force Majeure” (Stephen Saito, The Moveable Fest). The title says it all!
after Triangle of Sadness (2022). The Square (2017) is next on my watchlist. ↩