To quote Dustin Hoffman quoting Lenny Bruce in the movie Lenny, referring to his bit about Jackie Kennedy wanting to flee during the assassination of JFK: “People don’t stay……They don’t stay…” Force Majeure is the exact examination of that quote and theory. That a person’s first instinct is to escape sudden tragedy, rather than stick around and help whoever else involved from harm.
Force Majeure is about a family on vacation in the mountains on a skiing trip. One day while the family is having lunch on a patio, a mountain erupts next to them and a mild avalanche over throws their table. Before this happens, the father immediately flees to safety, leaving his wife and two kids behind.
A father stuck in his head; a wife and kids disappointed. Force Majeure dives deep into the phenomenon of its title, the idea that we all have an internal need to survive and at almost every soon-to-be tragic occurrence, our first instinct is to remove ourselves from wreckage. What Force Majeure does well is the examination of what an Alpha male is, and what being male is meant to be within society but how those ideals are heightened when added to the label of father. The unwritten laws that civilization has placed upon us all, ignores and negates our own feelings on self-preservation. Force Majeure doesn’t only explore the meaning of being male and being a father, as it presents the idea that even though the mother is upset that her husband abandoned them, she too has the same tendency, but in an observational pre-emptive way before any tragedy can be completely noticed.
The director also uses the cold atmosphere of a snow mountain landscape mindfully, by letting the grey tone of the sky with snow fall to illuminate the phony cover up of its characters emotions. To express the pure dread that haunts this whole vacation, as when it starts things seem bright and as it goes on things look more and more glum stylistically.
Force Majeure is a perfect unflinching exercise in human behavior and a testament to the truth of Lenny Bruce’s infamous joke. Definitely a must see film.
- - Maurice Jones