Force Majeure

Force Majeure ★★★★

A few years ago, I had a position with a large manufacturer of electronics and medical equipment. What I did there was negotiate contracts with suppliers of components needed in the fabrication of proprietary machines and systems. Contracts would routinely have a "Force Majeure" section. Also known as an "Acts of God Clause", the verbiage would negate legal obligations in the event of some natural disaster or other irresistible force (as the latin definition suggests). Only once in my experience did that text come into play. It was when a factory in Taiwan supplying finished goods to my company was leveled by a hurricane. In such an event, there's really not much you can do other than try to minimize the damage and continue on in as routine a manner as you possibly can. That said, I think director Ruben Östlund's latest film Force Majeure is one of the most deftly-named pictures in a great while.

The story follows a married couple and their two adolescent children while on a ski-holiday in the Alps. On the first day, they experience a brief incident which suddenly forces them to reassess their family dynamic. Now depending upon your own personal experience with relationship issues, the problems might seem entirely alien, or keenly familiar. I found myself strongly (and darkly) in the latter camp.

This is exactly the kind of movie that you'll almost certainly get more out of by knowing little or nothing about it before viewing. I will say that Lisa Loven Kongsli as "Ebba" is practically a force of nature herself, and really should be considered in any serious discussion of performances by an actress this year. Also stunning is the ski footage, not surprising since Östlund spent time in his early career as a winter sports documentarian.

I'm not exactly sure what else to say that doesn't do a disservice to those who haven't seen it yet. To that end, I'll just offer my heartfelt recommendation to the bold and caution to those with insecurities about their own position in their families.

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