Force Majeure ★★★★

TIFF 2014 Film #3

Reason for pick : Peter Strauss recommendation based on buzz at Cannes.

Guys … we’ve all been there before. You make one ‘teensy’ and she never lets you forget it. Alas, sometimes, well, most times .. ok, all the time we deserve it.

Swedish director Ruben Östlund takes a look the topic of gender roles, reflexes, instinct, honor, and what society expects of us in the face of a sudden crisis. What makes Force Majeure special is how Östlund shifts between tragic and hilarious with such ease, constantly keeping you off balance. Just when you think you’re catching a break, a swift punch to the gut is delivered.

The comedy is blacker than black, and the tragedy is gut wrenching. Östlund asks a lot of his actors, and they deliver in spades. The four primary characters are completely in tune with Östlund’s absurdest style, and the two child actors with their naturalistic performances.

Shot primarily in the Swiss and French Alps ( with the star shot courtesy of the Canadian Rockies ) Force Majeure is gorgeous. The Steadicam shots skiing down the slopes are breathtaking.

There’s virtually no comedy in the first thirty minutes or so. I was beginning to get worried that this was going to be a long, uncomfortable train-wreck. Östlund’s timing is perfect in pulling out the cork just when you think you can’t take any more.

A gem! Thanks, Peter.

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