Brilliant Swedish film. A black comedy pitched in a near perfect ski resort. Everything works, smoothly, as you sleep.The near perfect Swedish family straight out of a Phillip Patek ad are living the dream. But watch it. We all know from our reading of Scandinavian detective novels, watching Swedish films and TV series like The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge that no one stays happily married in Scandinavia.
And so it turns out. The husband shows himself in his true colours. His reaction to a near avalanche is to save himself and his phone not his family. The thin ice of his relationship with his wife cracks.From then on he and his family unravel. The dream becomes a nightmare-well almost.
But is that how families fall apart? All marriages have cracks, and most like well built buildings can survive those cracks easily. But the idea is that if something on the Richter scale happens then these cracks become the cause of the collapse. Unemployment, an away day, illness all are cited often in fiction as why the marriage train hits the buffers.
But our experience is different. We have known families where children have died, gone off the rails big time, where illness or financial woes have struck with Gothic force but the marriages have survived if not prospered.
There are some we know who should never have got married, to quote the old song they are not the marrying kind. Of the others ,the marriages we know that have failed because somewhere in the battle of the sexes the peace treaties were not drawn up with enough humanity or adult maturity. Of course the one eyed snake and his juicy partner come into it, and people change and fall out of love, but more often it’s the power struggle that goes on in every marriage and how it is resolved which can be the rotten apple which affects the rest of the barrel.
And maybe that’s the point of Force Majeure (which is a legal term meaning an event which breaks all contracts). The man negates his classic masculine role of family protector and that means all the other assumptions (fatherhood, male friendship etc) turn from well crafted pillars into cracks and then gaping holes. What is beautifully drawn among so many other things in the film is the iphone as a symbol and agent of selfishness, solipsism and hedonism.