A film that’s simply too long.

by Martin Hafer

The Golden Globe-nominated Force Majeure made the short list of nine which were vying for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, though ultimately it was not one of the final nominees. This would indicate that the movie is a really good film. However, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the production–mostly because what occurs in the film easily could have been said in an hour. Instead, the film is two hours long and it really, really drags. Because of this, although some film experts might love the movie, I think the average viewer would be bored silly after a while. Heck, many might be inclined just to watch the film in fast-forward mode because it’s that slow.

Force Majeure
Directed by
Ruben Östlund
Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren
Release Date
30 December 2014
Martin’s Grade: C

The idea behind the film is pretty unique. A family is taking a ski vacation when, out of the blue, there is an avalanche right next to the restaurant where they are eating. The mother tries to get her children to safety but the dad instinctively runs to save himself. Not surprisingly, this ends up causing a serious rift in their marriage–much of it, presumably, because of the stereotype that the man MUST behave bravely and heroically.

Following this, the wife spends much of the film emasculating her husband–talking all about this incident in front of others and showing contempt for him. Later, the husband gets in touch with his feelings and spends much of the last third of the film crying.

There are multiple problems with Force Majeure other than it being overlong. The avalanche incident happens way too early in the film and because of this, there isn’t a lot of tension or build up to the major plot point. Plus who the family is and their relationships aren’t really very well defined–so how this effects them after isn’t totally clear. I assume that the husband was supposed to get in touch with his inner pain and disappointment in himself late in the movie. However, my daughter and I watched and felt that he came off as rather histrionic and the emotional scenes seemed rather fake. As for the very end, it seemed like it just didn’t fit particularly well. Overall, I wanted to like this film so much more than I did. Perhaps I am being too harsh about it–and as always I’d love to know what you think.

Out now on DVD.