Review: Force Majeure

Twenty minutes in to this film, I knew I was going to have to write a review about it. Never before have I seen a film that captures so perfectly the feeling of the various struggles men find themselves facing.

The plot has us spend time with a family vaccinationing in the French Alps and centres around an incident in which an act of uncontrollable cowardice by the father causes a ripple effect throughout the family and which culminates in him having an identity crisis. 

The incident is a close-call with an avalanche in which it seemed the family were in mortal danger. In the moment when it looks like the family are in danger of being consumed by the approaching river of snow, we find the father running away - abandoning his wife and two children - while his wife's instant reaction is to take control and protect their children.

Following this are a number of awkward moments in which the family are clearly left with major questions following the father's actions. Most noticeably, the wife becomes instantly 'depolarized' and fails to hide her pain at the prospect of having a partner who thinks more of himself than of her and their children. The children too start to act out in various ways as they manifest their pain at feeling unprotected by one of their primary care givers. After massive efforts at avoiding the painful truth and denying of the gravity of his actions, we finally see the father himself face the reality of his own identity who then goes on to attempt to reinvent himself.

                            Look at that beard. I mean, really. Just look at it. Truly a thing of beauty. 

                           Look at that beard. I mean, really. Just look at it. Truly a thing of beauty. 

There are a number of common issues I work with that come up in Force Majeure, which are depicted perfectly, in my opinion. We see the power of vulnerability being used, communication breakdown and even mediation, various insecurities and sensitivities, avoiding and embracing of responsibility, subtle power dynamics between men and in the end a surprising choice for how the main character chooses to gain significance and freedom.

Men who have had extended life-coaching with me will recognise a lot of the themes we discuss in this film.

Apart from the subject matter, I truly enjoyed the film itself from a cinematic point of view. Raquel organized for us to see it as it was my first ever Swedish film (she's from Sweden and we're going there together for the first time this year too.) Also worth mentioning is the cinema we saw it in. Raquel found this awesome place in Shoreditch, London, called Electric Cinema. As well as a bar, it has an old-school barber shop in there for some baffling but awesome reason and the chairs are comfy armchairs where you get a side-table with a lamp where you can sit your coffee (in a mug!), or beer (in a real glass!). This is how all grown ups should go the movies, I reckon.

Check out this film and let me know YOUR thoughts in the comments section below.

Sharif