This is my review of Force Majeure DVD.
Tomas and Ebba, a Swedish couple whose marriage may already be under pressure, take their two young children on a ski trip to the Alps. When a controlled avalanche exercise goes awry and seems to pose a serious threat, Tomas thinks only of saving himself. Ebba is shocked by the incident, but even more so by her husband's inability to admit to his action. By turns humorous, moving or cringe-making, the ensuing chain of events dissects human relationships – marriage, family, gender roles and friendships. The film may also intend to explore Swedish inhibitions over expressing emotions, which were apparent to me forty odd years ago, although times may have changed, but this aspect may not be clear to a non-Swedish audience.
"Force majeure" is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond their control prevents one side or the other from fulfilling their obligations. The film's title is therefore ambiguous. Does it refer to Tomas's failure to act as expected of a husband and father? Or, does it relate to Ebba's extreme reaction to her husband's behaviour?
I enjoyed the brilliant beauty of the mountains under snow, the discussions which rang true, and the relevant, thought-provoking ideas raised. A few scenes did not quite work for me, such as the events of the last "Day 5" of the ski trip, but the ending is unpredictable, interesting and open to different interpretations.