Thursday, January 1, 2015

Turist (Force Majeure) (2014)

Director: Ruben Östlund 
Writer:    Ruben Östlund
Cast:       Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren
Language: Swedish, English

A 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.

It is the reaction to what turned out to be an avalanche smoke, instead of a proper avalanche, that causes tension between the members of the family. The mother tries to protect the children while the father takes his gloves and phone and runs away. Even though they don't speak about it immediately, the event comes up during their dinner conversations with other holidaymakers. While the situation is totally awkward for them, it makes for us a brutally funny film. I first came across the term 'Force Majeure' while reading some contracts in which it stated that consideration has to be made for unforeseen circumstances and included those words. Funnily enough, it also included 'Acts of God' and I really don't have a clue about what that could possibly mean. Can I say 'God told me to not honor the contract'?

The film has this Force Majeure event affecting the marriage and family contract that they all implicitly signed on to. It was a split second decision for the husband to make and he acted based on his instincts. To make matters worse he denies that he made a run for it when the wife first brings the matter into conversation. The wife also ends up talking to another woman who has an open relationship which leaves her questioning the sacrifices she is making in her relationship without any benefits to show for it in a 'Force Majeure' situation. Their situation also affects the relationship of their couple friends' when the wife in it concludes that her much older husband would also react the same way. At the end of it, after a family crying 'catharsis', they leave the resort in a happy state following another near death experience. That would have been the logical end for the film but it prolongs for another ten minutes giving a resolution for the other couple in questions. Some people have objected to that ending but I didn't find it that problematic to ruin the whole film for me.

Overall it is a great film that would find a place in my top five list for the year as of now. In some instances I was reminded of Sreenivasan's 'Chinthavisthtayaya Shyamala'. Also, there is a Heneke feel to the whole thing and I found the whole family mechanically brushing their teeth extremely hilarious. It has been shortlisted for the academy awards in the Foreign film category.

Rating: 5/5