Friday, November 14, 2014

Force Majeure

Force Majeure
seen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens, NY
11.13.14

Pop quiz, hotshot!

You're on vacation with your spouse and children at a ski resort. You're eating on a terrace when a big-ass avalanche comes tearing down the mountain headed straight for you and fixing to bury you alive. What do you do?

What do you do?!

Part of the appeal of superheroes, which are more popular than ever now, is the idea that anyone can become one, given the right circumstances. Pseudo-science aside, if we were bitten by a radioactive spider, or injected with a super-soldier serum, or were given an alien power ring, or what have you, we like to think that we would automatically have what it takes to fight evil and save lives. And sure, there are lots of people who do have the right stuff for that. Some of them have been trained for the job over many years, and others are somehow born with it.

And then there's the rest of us.

The problem is that we rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to test the belief that heroism is inherently within us. I was miles from Ground Zero when 9-11 went down, but if I had been in the vicinity of the World Trade Center, would I have had the courage to save even one life? I like to think so, but I'll never know for certain unless something similar were to happen again - not that I'm in any hurry to find out (knock on wood).

This is the central quandary behind the Swedish film Force Majeure. The decision the father makes as the avalanche approaches haunts him and the rest of his family throughout the rest of the story. At first, I thought the mother's reaction to the father's act was indicative of a deeper problem in their relationship, and perhaps it was, to an extent, but as the film progresses, it's clear that the father's act is the crux of the problem. There are quite a few awkward, uncomfortable moments as a result of the level of introspection that takes place. It's a hard thing to come face to face with the self you are as opposed to the self you imagine yourself to be, and we see that here.

I remember seeing the trailer for this twice before, but I found it difficult to figure what it was really about. I thought it was perhaps a dark comedy, but I wasn't sure. I was gonna pass on it until I saw all the glowing reviews for it. So I gave it a try, and I liked it more than I thought I would. In addition to the story, there are some wonderful skiing images and great shots of mountain landscapes. I've only been skiing once, as a kid, at a resort not unlike the one in this movie, and it was hardly anything terribly challenging. Seeing the skiing going on here kinda makes me wanna try it some day.

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