MOVIE REVIEW: Force Majeure

American audiences don’t much like movies with subtitles.

force-majeure-poster-640x400The problem with describing the Swedish film Force Majeure as a comedy, or even as a dark comedy, which I’ve now read a few times, is that one may look for the humor early on, and that would be a mistake. It looks like the portrait of a perfect bourgeois family, a pretty mom, and nice-looking dad, and their attractive children, a girl, and a boy, on a ski vacation in Switzerland at a chichi resort. Pretty mundane, even boring.

Then the avalanche comes, which, not much of a spoiler, they all survive. Physically, that is. But what goes on emotionally in the relationships among the “perfect” nuclear family, and those with whom they interact is what’s interesting.

I suspected, even before looking up the Rotten Tomatoes scores, that it’d be a movie liked more by critics, 93% positive at last glance at Rotten Tomatoes, than by the general public. 76% positive. One either buys the basic conceit of the narrative, or one does not. It’s also the case that American audiences don’t much like movies with subtitles, though some of the film is in English; it didn’t bother me.

The Wife and I liked it quite a bit when we saw it at The Spectrum in Albany on a recent Sunday afternoon, In particular, the stark use of silence, and the ambiguous and multiple endings, were intriguing. There’s one brief moment when I actually ducked in my chair, and it was NOT the avalanche scene.

I just figured this out: the choice of the dominant music was part of the joke!