31 December 2014

Best of 2014: #2. Force majeure (Ruben Östlund)

 #2. Force majeure (Turist). Ruben Östlund. Sweden/France/Norway.

Set entirely on an isolated tourist ski resort somewhere in the French Alps, Force majeure examines the psychological ramifications that a Swedish family of four endure after surviving an avalanche. Winner of the Jury Prize for the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year, Force majeure is in a way the Spring Breakers of 2014… if only for the fact that at no point during the film did I ever have an idea where the film was headed. Writer/director Ruben Östlund takes a page from fellow countryman Ingmar Bergman as he explores the existential crises that the once-seemingly happy married couple Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) experience once the shock of the avalanche starts to wear off.

Does a person's true nature instinctually reveal itself in a moment of crisis? Can a single incident permanently alter your perception of the world? While these are just a few of the questions posed in the film, Force majeure isn't as cerebral as I'm making it sound. The film is comprised of unusual sequences that trigger the spectrum of emotions. It's at times darkly humorous, while at others nail-bitingly tense. These sequences and the film as a whole mirror their unusual setting: a hotel that's absent of privacy, a resort where the sounds of loud explosions echo in the night, mountains with treacherous paths, drones hovering outside the hotel windows, and an ominous, creaking ski lift. As a whole, Force majeure doesn't entirely succeed. Some scenes don't work as well as others, but in a year as disappointing as this one, that's just me being nitpicky. Force majeure is really everything I want in a film: bold, surprising, weird, unique, and riveting. So, really, who am I to complain?

With: Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Vincent Wettergren, Clara Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius, Karin Myrenberg, Brady Corbet, Johannes Moustos

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