Force Majeure (film)
Force Majeure (French: [fɔrs maʒœr]; Swedish: Turist, "tourist") is a 2014 internationally co-produced comedy-drama film directed by Ruben Östlund. It follows the marital tension resulting from an avalanche during which the husband, named Tomas, prioritizes his own escape over the safety of his family. The title used for the film in some English-speaking countries comes from force majeure, a contractual clause freeing both parties from liability in the event of unexpected disasters.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ruben Östlund|
|Written by||Ruben Östlund|
|Music by||Ola Fløttum|
|Edited by||Jacob Secher Schulsinger|
|Distributed by||TriArt Film|
|Box office||$1.4 million (US)|
Force Majeure was acclaimed upon release, with critics praising its script and cinematography. It won the Best Film award at the 50th Guldbagge Awards, and was named one of the best films of 2014 by various publications.
A Swedish family consisting of a businessman named Tomas, his Norwegian wife Ebba, their young daughter Vera and preschooler Harry stays at a luxury resort in the French Alps. On their second day, they see a controlled avalanche as they are having lunch outdoors on the deck of a restaurant. The powder cloud of the avalanche gives the appearance that the snow is rising and will wipe out everyone on the deck. Tomas, who is filming the avalanche on his mobile phone, panics and runs as the deck quickly empties of patrons, leaving Ebba with their children encased in a dense fog. Patrons return to their tables as the fog dissipates, and no one is hurt.
That evening they eat dinner with one of Ebba's friends, who has picked up an American man for the evening. Ebba tells the story of the avalanche in English, but Tomas insists he did not run away from the table, and in Swedish adds that one cannot run in ski boots. They argue in front of their embarrassed guests. Ebba is angry that he would not admit he ran away from the avalanche abandoning them. He says he remembers it differently.
Ebba decides she would like a day of skiing by herself. She has drinks with her friend they had dinner with the night before, as the woman says goodbye to another man. Ebba confronts her friend on her adultery, asking her if she loves her husband and children. Her friend says she is fine with having an open relationship with her husband, and that she is happy if he finds a woman to have great sex with, as he is with her. Ebba becomes more insistent, and the friend advises they not argue, and leaves.
Mats, one of Tomas's old friends, joins them at the resort with his young girlfriend, Fanni. They join Tomas and Ebba for dinner in their suite. After dinner and lots of wine, Ebba again recounts the story of the avalanche, to the silent horror of Mats and Fanni. Tomas curls up with Harry to play a video game, and listens to Mats who insists that we are not ourselves in emergencies, naming the Estonia disaster as an example. Ebba says Tomas won't admit what he did. Tomas returns and again insists he has a different perspective. So Ebba fetches Tomas's phone and has the four of them watch the video of the incident. Tomas reluctantly agrees the footage showed someone running, but is silent when Mats speculates that Tomas was running away so that he could come back and dig out his family later. As Fanni and Mats leave, Fanni suggests that she would expect Mats to react in the same way as Tomas. Mats is irritated, and their relationship is changed for the rest of the trip.
Tomas and Mats ride the ski lift in silence. They ski down fresh powder. Mats suggests Tomas try primal screaming, and Tomas does, screaming swear words into the Alps. Tomas later confesses to Ebba that he hates himself, his cowardice, his cheating in games with his kids, his unfaithfulness. He weeps as his children inside huddle and cry together, hearing their parents argue.
On their final day, the family ascends in the ski lift silently. Ebba is concerned about the thick fog. Tomas says he will go first, then the children, then she can follow. Ebba gets lost in the fog, and Tomas briefly leaves the children alone to go rescue her, returning carrying her shortly after. He sets her down, grinning.
As the family and their friends leave the resort by coach down the winding mountain road, Ebba decides the driver is incompetent and demands to be let off. Panic ensues, and Mats takes charge, insisting women and children get off first.
Eventually, all exit the bus except for Ebba's friend, and the group descends the road on foot. Mats and Fanni are walking apart. Ebba asks Mats to carry Vera. A stranger offers Tomas a cigarette, and initially Tomas declines, but then accepts. Harry asks his father if he smokes — he has not during the entire vacation — and Tomas replies that he does.
Filming took place at the aux Arcs, a ski resort in Savoie, France. Prior to entering film school, Ruben Östlund had created ski films, and wanted to use his knowledge and experience from that in a film concerned with existential issues.
Ruben Östlund attributed the inspiration for the film's key scenes to a few viral YouTube videos which he felt corroborated the plausible situation and emotions of the characters. The director reasoned that "...if someone captured an event or action or pang of emotion on camera and uploaded to the Internet, then it happened in real life. And it could happen in Force Majeure." The scene where Ebba demands to be let off the bus is based on the YouTube viral video titled "Idiot Spanish bus driver almost kills students".
During the filming high aux Arcs, Sergey Glaziev's sister became the only person to die of avalanche on piste in France between years 1997 and 2018. Her family also received around 10-fold compensation than the next highest compensation for a death from the French state.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 93% approval rating, based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Gleefully uncomfortable, Force Majeure is a relationship drama that's hard to watch — and just as difficult to ignore." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 87 out of 100, based on 37 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
The film was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize. It was also screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film was nominated for the 2014 Nordic Council Film Prize. It was also selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, making the early round of shortlist, but was not a nominee. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards.
It won the Best Film award, and was nominated in the categories Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, and Best Editing at the 50th Guldbagge Awards.
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- "9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar Race". AMPAS. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- 72ND ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE® AWARDS NOMINEES ANNOUNCED. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
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- "Will Ferrell Joins Julia Louis-Dreyfus In Fox Searchlight's 'Force Majeure' Remake 'Downhill'; Nat Faxon & Jim Rash To Direct". Deadline. Retrieved 6 November 2018.