Force Majeure 2014 movie Still 7

One of my favorite movies of 2014, and a strong contender alongside Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler to earn my vote for Best Original Screenplay, was Force Majeure. Wikipedia tells us that the film’s title “means “superior force”, but is also known as casus fortuitus (Latin) “chance occurrence, unavoidable accident” and is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, riot, or an event described by the legal term act of God (such as hurricane,earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.” This is important since the film hinges almost entirely on the reaction of the film’s central characters to an incoming avalanche at a ski resort in the French Alps. The film was written and directed by Ruben Ostlund, who used his background making professional skiing videos to help inform this beautifully shot feature. The script is filled with cutting insights into modern life and how we define ourselves as men and women amidst shifting cultural values. I found it to be thought-provoking, highly-relevant and often hilarious. It has a strange tone that I could never quite put my finger on but helped add to the tension that pushes this film from being a snapshot of a family vacation so terrible it becomes life altering into something much deeper and more disturbing. Adding to the absurdity is the presence of Kristofer Hivju, better known to most as Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones, who aside from a wardrobe shift doesn’t look all that different. I loved every scene he appeared in and was thankful to whoever made the decision to cast him. Force Majeure won the grand jury prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar and is one of the few truly original pieces of film making I’ve come across in some time. It’s the kind of movie that gets in your head for days and one that begs to be watched again.

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