Relationships are based on trust and understanding. There’s a tendency to bury issues and try to continue on with the relationship as if nothing is wrong. Often unsaid anxieties and issues are brought to the fore by seemingly unrelated or unusual events. In Force Majeure, director Ruben Östlund plays on these uncertainties using a ‘Force Majeure’ (Act of God) to trigger a crisis in the relationship between a couple holidaying in the Swiss Alps.
Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are enjoying a much-needed skiing holiday with their two young children. Whilst enjoying a meal on the balcony of a restaurant at the resort, a controlled avalanche threatens to engulf them. Tomas runs away, whilst Ebba looks after their children, Vera(Clara Wettergren) and Harry (Vincent Wettergren). This abandonment sparks recriminations from all of Tomas’ family. An old friend, Mats (Kristofer Hivju), and his young girlfriend Fanni (Fanni Metelius) arrive and try to mediate, but tensions ebb into their relationship as well. All this is getting a bit too much for Tomas.
Force Majeure is a bitingly funny and clever study into relationships, trust, lies and recrimination. The use of an avalanche as the catalyst is inspired, Östlund slowly drawing out the conflict between the couples. There are great performances from Kuknke and Kongsli and some lovely sequences as the pair try to come to terms and rationalise what has happened. Force Majeure has been widely lauded around the Awards circuit, and rightly so. It’s a tightly handled drama with sprinkles of comedic genius.
Force Majeure is out in cinemas on Friday.