A psycho-comedy-drama inspired by the selfishness of our survival instincts, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s fourth feature is his best yet.

Östlund (Play – JDIFF 2012) began his career as a director of skiing films, but it’s not so much the ski scenes that impress in his vision of the resort where Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and children Vera and Harry are taking a winter break: it’s the sense of the slopes as a menacing beast. When the family is eating lunch a ‘controlled’ avalanche rushes towards the chalet. Tomas bolts in the general  stampede, but Ebba stays to protect the kids. The whiteout that envelops the terrace is just powder and when it settles life goes on as before. Except it doesn’t. Tomas’ instinctive act of selfishness begins to poison the couple’s relationship.

One of this superbly directed film’s many pleasures is the way Östlund risks provoking out-and-out laughs as the dramatic stakes heighten. But Force Majeure never loses sight of its mandate to make us wonder how we might react.

Lee Marshall
Screen International


Please note that the festival is for over 18s only