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Peter T Chattaway

Turist a.k.a. Force Majeure

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My capsule review.

 

I really liked this one. Awkward, painfully subtle dramatic stuff, but also quite funny in places.

 

One of our fellow A&Fers said he had heard the film compared to The Loneliest Planet, which hadn't occurred to me until he mentioned it, but yeah, they both revolve around a relationship that is called into question when a moment of panic prompts the male partner to put his own safety ahead of the female's. The difference here is that the couple is not just engaged, or whatever the couple in The Loneliest Planet was, but they are actually married *with children*. So the stakes are arguably higher -- even though the initial threat to the family in this film turns out to be considerably less than the threat posed to the couple in that other film.

 

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That's quite a movie. I was in minority here on The Loneliest Planet, but Force Majeure is the movie I thought/hoped that one would be. My only concern is that Force Majeure might spell out and underline its themes too much, but the landscape imagery here is really striking, more so than it was for me in TLP.

 

I'm guessing this film had a larger budget than TLP, too, for whatever that's worth.

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Just watched this. As soon as the key plot point occurred, I thought immediately of The Loneliest Planet, and I watched the next 15 minutes of the movie or so with Darren in my head. smile.png

 

And this made me think that it tended to be, if not too verbal, at least too explicit and on the nose.

 

Over time, though, I began thinking more of Rohmer and Bergman, and the talkiness and on-the-nose-ness started to work better.
 

One of our fellow A&Fers said he had heard the film compared to The Loneliest Planet, which hadn't occurred to me until he mentioned it, but yeah, they both revolve around a relationship that is called into question when a moment of panic prompts the male partner to put his own safety ahead of the female's.


…in both cases leading the female partner to at least contemplate the possibility of an act of infidelity in a way that would have been impossible earlier. I was surprised the movie never followed up in any notable way on Eppa's conversation with the unfaithful woman, either by having her tempted to infidelity or in some other way.
 
Halfway through, I turned to Suzanne and said, "This had better not end with another emergency giving Tomas an opportunity to redeem himself." And she said, "That's how an American movie would end." 
 
Well, as it turns out…

…it does end in just that way. But this occurs the day after Tomas' epic breakdown, in front of the kids no less — and so I found myself wondering if Ebba had

engineered Tomas's redemption in his own eyes and that of the children, deliberately falling behind a short distance and then calling for help. I mean, he carries her heroically down the mountain, but she doesn't seem to be in any distress, immediately standing up and saying "I'll be fine." 

 

But then comes…

…a denouement with

another crisis putting all their lives in danger, and Ebba steps up as the spokesman on behalf of everyone's safety, which fits her personality (though it leaves Tomas passive)—but then when the driver stops the bus, she gets off by herself, leaving Tomas to evacuate the kids while Mats protects them and the other children by keeping the panicky passengers from trampling them, neatly fulfilling his own declaration to Fanny that he would always protect his family (I'm not sure whether Mats and Tomas are actually family, but it's the same principle).

 

And so we have Ebba not putting her children first, which she said was her basic orientation—acting, in fact, just like Tomas at the restaurant.

Which struck me as contrived and neat, and not in keeping with what we've seen before. 

Edited by SDG

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And this made me think that it tended to be, if not too verbal, at least too explicit and on the nose. Over time, though, I began thinking more of Rohmer and Bergman, and the talkiness and on-the-nose-ness started to work better.

 

I never even had that problem because, as I said on Twitter, "when a man does something bad ... we don't talk about it and act around it ... that movie is THE LONELIEST PLANET; we talk about it and hash it out and the result is nauseating ... that movie is FORCE MAJEURE.

 

 

As for the spoiltudinous points (which I just snipped) ... I think it was reasonably clear (certainly I instantly took it that way) that

the wife did contrive the snow emergency to redeem him in the kids' eyes

, which is why what happens at the end is exactly right (though obviously somewhat contrived ... the film is a symmetrical fairy tale about, among other things,

self-satisfied feminism that is the West's de facto ideology. And note how it has a clean conscience at the end, i.e., no breakdown as men carry the children

).

 
Or to flesh that last out a bit ... Was it consistent with what she had been before? Arguably not, but then had the earlier [spoiler event] been consistent with what he had been? Not especially ... but that's the whole point. The exceptional case is, by definition, exceptional.

But he is capable of self-criticism (too capable, I'd say) and she is not.

Edited by vjmorton

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One other thought that didn't fit well into replying to Steve. The (second-listed here) title ... it refers to a doctrine of contract law that the terms of a contract don't apply if they cannot be fulfilled because of exceptional cases that neither party can foresee. "Force Majeure" (obviously a French term, from Napoleonic code) is similar to, but slightly broader than, the Anglo-Saxon common-law "act of God" doctrine in that FM also includes what are obviously acts of men -- war, revolution, riot -- provided neither party contributed to them.

 

What that has to do with the film should be clear enough if you've seen it.

Edited by vjmorton

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Or to flesh that last out a bit ... Was it consistent with what she had been before? Arguably not, but then had the earlier [spoiler event] been consistent with what he had been? Not especially ... but that's the whole point. The exceptional case is, by definition, exceptional.

But he is capable of self-criticism (too capable, I'd say) and she is not.

I dunno. Maybe it's because I'm married to a maternal goddess, one who would gladly take her right arm, saw it from her shoulder, and laugh and be thankful, if by that means* her children would be safe and contented. The action at the first-act crisis makes maternal sense to me. The later action does not. 

 

* HT: Robert Bolt.

Edited by SDG

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I liked that final scene, and was intrigued that a colleague of mine hadn't made the connection between the husband's earlier behaviour and the wife's later behaviour until I pointed it out to him.

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Saw it tonight.  I grew up in a skiing family, so I expected to make connections with it and enjoy it, but it left me cold.  I feel I got the intended humor, but it wasn't funny to me.  The characters left me less than keenly empathetic, and I couldn't identify with any of them, even though I'm a mom and had a 21-year marriage.  The kids ordering their parents around in shrill voices was particularly irritating.  The plot...well, there wasn't any good meat to it.  All in all, a disappointment.  (And yes, I did get the ending, which apparently was meant to be wry humor, but it didn't do anything for me.)

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Ken was kind enough to post my review here:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/1morefilmblog/force-majeure-ostlund-2014/

 

I really liked this film.  I dig Ostlund's style:  the 5 act structure, the absence of a film score aside from the entr'actes, the naturalistic soundtrack, and splendid imagery.  A very satisfying mix of painful domestic drama, soul-searching, suspense, and comedy. 

 

It's very interesting to read the differing opinions here on the intentionality (or not) of the climax.  My wife and I landed on opposite sides of this debate.

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It's very interesting to read the differing opinions here on the intentionality (or not) of the climax.  My wife and I landed on opposite sides of this debate.

 

Andrew, were you on the right side or the wrong side? ;)

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Saw it tonight.  I grew up in a skiing family, so I expected to make connections with it and enjoy it, but it left me cold.  I feel I got the intended humor, but it wasn't funny to me.  The characters left me less than keenly empathetic, and I couldn't identify with any of them, even though I'm a mom and had a 21-year marriage.  The kids ordering their parents around in shrill voices was particularly irritating.  The plot...well, there wasn't any good meat to it.  All in all, a disappointment.  (And yes, I did get the ending, which apparently was meant to be wry humor, but it didn't do anything for me.)

 

Thanks for sharing this, Lynn. My response wasn't entirely unlike this: I felt the threads of connection as I was watching it, but I was never entirely pulled in. 

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