(The Other) Hank’s Recommendations 2/10/15

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_WebFORCE MAJEURE

A pull-quote on the cover of the new Swedish film FORCE MAJEURE touts it as a “must-see dark comedy.” I can agree with the “must-see” sentiments. But comedy? Not so much (although there are comedic moments). Rather, FORCE MAJEURE is an intense, squirm-inducing relationship drama.

It begins with a bourgeois idyll, a young attractive Swedish family—dad, mom, sister and brother—on skiing holiday in the French Alps. On their second day, as they dine al fresco on the hotel restaurant patio with a view of the majestic mountains, an explosion sets a controlled avalanche cascading down the mountainside. As the diners watch, however, the wall of snow barrels towards them, provoking a rising panic. The mother, Ebba (played by Lisa Loven Kongsli), gathers their two children to hustle them to safety. But the father, Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), grabs his iPhone and gloves and runs away, leaving Ebba and the kids to fend for themselves.

The avalanche never quite reaches the diners; everybody is safe. But it sends an icy chill through Tomas’ and Ebba’s marriage. Fight or flight—Tomas, in the instant, chooses the latter and ends up with the former. Once the avalanche comes, it’s all downhill from there.