Force Majeure, film review: Ruben Ostlund's subtle and probing drama has a barbed ending

(15) Ruben Ostlund, 119 mins Starring: Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren
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The Independent Culture

Ruben Ostlund's subtle and probing drama lays bare the tensions and misunderstandings in a seemingly happy marriage over the course of a week's skiing holiday.

What causes the wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) to question her husband, Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), is his behaviour when it looks as if they are going to be caught in an avalanche. Rather than stay to help her and save the kids, he thinks only of himself... and his mobile phone. He flees.

The crisis lasts a matter of seconds but causes Ebba to doubt everything about him. He, in turn, is prey to intense self-pity. He is in a state of denial, and is also determined to assert his masculinity. Ostlund investigates how a single incident almost causes the life of an entire family to unravel; it even undermines the relationship of their friends. It's a very clever film with a barbed ending.