A family on a ski holiday in the French Alps find themselves staring down an avalanche during lunch one day; in the aftermath, their dynamic has been shaken to its core, with a question mark hanging over their patriarch in particular.
“Force Majeure“, takes all the sheer awkwardness of that shit-eating grin from Ben Affleck in Gone Girl, and drags it out to nearly two hours in an unflinching yet realistic portrayal of the relationship dynamic on holiday. No matter how solid your relationship is, holidays can be pressurised environments despite its intentions usually being the exact opposite. Small arguments materialise into larger ones, and with no work to occupy your day, your free time turns into deep thought which if not discussed properly can turn into upset and discontent. This is even more so present when the purpose of the holiday is to ‘fix’ things.
Which is why when you take a regular ski trip, but throw in the added factor of an avalanche that nearly wipes out the entire family, it adds an unpredictable depth to this dynamic. It amplifies the tension between the man, wife and their family on a holiday, but the extremity of the situation enhances the existing cracks to an unbearable degree.
The appearance of “Force Majeure” is as beautiful as the landscape it is set within. Each day opening with a flurry of classical music from Antonio Vivaldi set against the clunking of the machines and explosions of the controlled avalanches as the resort prepares for its day. The routine is mirrored as the family prepares also, only in this instance the explosions and clunking are yet to come shown as the gradual deterioration of their relationship. A large credit of this films success goes to the editing, as ‘Force Majeure’ appears effortlessly bound together injecting new energy into every day despite the tedium of marital bickering.
The film is a great watch, but as I find with many films it causes a tremendous amount of self-evaluation. What would I do in that situation? You will probably feel the same, and it is a powerful thing for a movie to make you question yourself. This realism is only emphasised by the performances across the board, all seemingly natural and relatable, which results in a very humanistic approach. Darkly comical, highly intricate but ultimately an uncomfortable watch. There is a little bit of all of us on screen here, whether we like to admit it or not.