Force Majeure (2014): Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund's treatise on familial paradoxes

An artistic depiction of a tiny story about family dynamics

By Tejas Nair

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Force Majeure, Directed by Ruben Östlund, Movie Poster
Force Majeure (2014) By Ruben Östlund
IMDb Ratings: 7.7
Reviewer Rating: 78 %
Genre: Drama
Cast: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren
Country: Sweden | France | Norway
LanguageSwedish | French | English | Norwegian
Runtime: 118 min

SummaryA family on a ski holiday in the French Alps find themselves staring down an avalanche during lunch one day; in the aftermath, their dynamic has been shaken to its core, with a question mark hanging over their patriarch in particular.

Just as punching as the Swedish house music, Force Majeure embraces a topic that will powerfully compel any sensible viewer to sit down, take note, and introspect his own actions (perhaps familial, too).

The title itself explains what the film is about and what one should expect. Although, the film surpasses one's (if one is not Swedish, of course) expectations, it is in the underlying message where the gist of the drama lies. A family goes through a life-threatening situation (an avalanche in the Alps) which ends in questions arising over the behavior and the role as a master of the father of the family. It throws (white?) light into how each member, mainly the wife, of the family perceives this awakening.

The Family in Force Majeure, Directed by Ruben Östlund
A Still from Force Majeure: The Family
While the story takes a stand in the first twenty minutes, what follows is a careful perception of the members' complexes that causes further disorder in the foundation of the family. What may look like a petty issue turns out to be a defining matter that needs to be resolved. And with how fast the world is moving right now, we anticipate the solution and its outcome.

Beautiful photography colors the frames that have more of diluted humor & black comedy than melodrama. Of course, there are scenes which sincerely become monotonous; they don't look gimmicky at all. After all, it is primarily a story about real people falling into real situations. The principal cast acts so well that it increases the entertainment factor. But, Force Majeure should be considered simply because of the mind-blowing effect that Antonio Vivaldi's Summer Concerto brings in the film, throughout. If not the director himself, I would like to meet the person behind the decision of playing Vivaldi's tense piece in parts. It adheres so well into the story, you will feel a ting every time (at least six) the piece plays in the film. Wonderful!

The Avalanche sequence from Force Majeure, Directed by Ruben Östlund
A Still from Force Majeure: The Avalanche
The film leaves a question to the audience and coaxes them to find an answer. The pre-ending sequence is the most humorous sequence in the whole film which is where the thought of familial paradoxes emanates into a viewer's mind. Situations can involuntarily turn people selfish. The irony is remarkable.

Good direction and dialogs that never go out of bounds. The makers base the story on small incidents that govern the members to act in a certain way; that is where you relate your life with those of the characters. And if you pardon the snail-paced narration, this drama succeeds in invoking thoughts. One of the best films of 2014!

BOTTOM LINE: This is how you capture a pure drama and this is what you call an artistic depiction of a tiny story. Recommended!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

About Author - 

Tejas Nair is a writer, film critic, and Engineer from Mumbai, India. When he is not watching films and reviewing them on IMDb, he can either be found reading or blogging. Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” is his favorite film. Tejas blogs at

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

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Force Majeure (2014) Trailer

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