118 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Most of us would like to believe that if faced with a life-threatening crisis we would behave decently, nobly…even heroically.
Uh, probably not. Most of us would be like Tomas, the husband and father whose act of cowardice becomes the topic of Ruben Ostlund’s terse, psychologically ravaging “Force Majeure.”
The Swedish Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) has brought his wife Ebba (Lisa Kongsli) and two young children to posh ski resort in the French Alps. They appear to be an utterly unremarkable young family.
But while eating lunch at an outdoor cafe, they witness a controlled avalanche set off by explosive detonations. The churning wall of white speeds down a mountainside, hits the bottom of a valley, then begins rapidly climbing toward the terrace on which the diners are sitting.
“Doesn’t look controlled to me,” Ebba says.
Result: chaos. People scream, run, freak out. Ebba grabs her two children and hunkers down behind a table. Tomas cuts and runs, returning to his loved ones only when it becomes clear that the snow never came close to the restaurant, that a cloud of white fog only made it appear that everyone was about to be buried alive.