When a man is faced with an extreme situation, is there a wrong reaction? Can we judge someone because he didn’t perform as expected? When faced with something as extreme as potential catastrophe self-preservation is the initial impulse but that impulse is not always the right one. “Tourist” (rather unfortunate translation I would say: “Higher power” would be the right considering the plot) is asking all those questions and after the credits we are left lingering around them. When something of that magnitude happens, what would we do? Would we stay or would we go? Would we save ourselves or those we love? Horror is, that we can’t give simple answer and remain truthful. We simply don’t know. We haven’t been in that situation.
In the center of the plot we have a family. Four members: Mom, Dad, two kids (boy and a girl). Harry and Vera are here just to make emotions stronger since kids always tend to make strong point in cases like this. Our points of interest are Tomas and Ebba (Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli) as idyllic couple very much in love and very much determined to spend memorable winter holidays with their children. First scene in the film is a family taking picture on the mountain. Everything is beautiful, camera is beautiful, music is wonderful and family is happy. Promising start for skiing trip many people take in this time of year. Nature cannot be tamed. Nature sometimes has a mind of its own. That much drawn into film and its characters I thought: Oh, God not just one more film of catastrophe. Fortunately, that was not the case. “Force Majeure” is “higher power” only in the title, as long as the catastrophe is considered. When faced with potential of catastrophe emotions of all members of the family will be put to the test. Father and mother as the most important members. Children faced with a potential catastrophe are helpless and in a desperate need to be protected. At that point plot becomes interesting. Not everyone in the family will perform as they are expected and family will find itself in a psychological chaos in which taking responsibility for the actions will be harder than facing the mountain. For that reason, international title of this movie in nonsense. “Tourist” just won’t cut it. for me. “Higher Power” is more powerful and it does much more justice to the plot. We can ask ourselves a question: Are the actions taken by the characters in this movie result of their own free will or are they a higher power – something that cannot be challenged and taken against anybody? It’s interesting how the empathy of the viewer evolves with the movie. At first I was appalled and I thought that I would “of course, do the right thing” but after the director Ruben Östlund made his case I was not so sure and I started to understand the character(s) that made me so nervous just a minute ago.
“Force Majeure” is one of the great cinematic experiences. Camera is voyeuristic and sometimes we feel like we’re watching the intimate relationships of the family falling apart. We are fly on the wall, ash in the ashtray, spilled wine on the carpet. We are not comfortable with our voyeurism but we cannot stop. We must follow the story to the end. We want to punish someone, find the guilty party but in a nutshell we’re not sure that the guilty one even exists. When the movie is over and the credits are rolling we still don’t have the answer. Picture of us about ourselves is as fragile as the one made by fiction. We don’t know. When our psyche is forced to the primal impulses we really don’t know. Beauty of the horror in this family drama. Beauty of art.
Highly recommended movie and one I’m not likely to forget.
P.S. Happy new year to all followers and readers of this blog! Enjoy the stories, enjoy the films! 🙂