Force Majeure – 4.5 stars

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This is a disquieting look into how a single failure, even one that is in no way fatal, can fray the bond of an entire family. Tomas, Ebba and their two young children are on a ski vacation. While having lunch at the resort’s outdoor patio restaurant, at the base of the slopes, a controlled avalanche gets a little out of control and for a moment, threatens to engulf them.

How Tomas and Ebba react, and the aftermath, reveals a great deal about fear, commitment, gender expectations, the frailty of masculinity, the dangers of self denial and the ability of people ostensibly in love to casually, cruelly gut each other.  I know that seems a mouthful, but it’s all there in this literate, intelligent picture. See it with spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, and/or friends, and you’ll be chatting deep into the night.

The film was rightly bandied as a potential Best Foreign Film nominee, but it did not make the cut,  perhaps because it never takes a strong stand. It is as gray as gray gets.

Remade, horribly, as a Julia Louis Dreyfus/Will Ferrell picture.

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