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Glasgow Film Festival 2015 Closing Gala: Force Majeure

Ruben Östlund's film questions modern masculinity in this clever subversion of the disaster movie

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Glasgow Film Festival 2015 Closing Gala features Force Majeure by Scandinavian filmmaker Ruben Östlund

Confrontational Scandinavian filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s previous feature Play was button-pushing, state-of-the-nation cinema based on an account of real-life bullying which tackled tough societal issues. It caused much controversy among the Left in Sweden. His latest film and Glasgow Film Festival closer, Force Majeure, isn’t afraid to provoke either. Östlund mercilessly needles at the cracks in a marriage and questions the idea of modern masculinity in this clever subversion of the disaster movie which is designed to get under the skin.


Who are the main players?
Married couple, Tomas and Ebba, are holidaying at a ski resort in the French Alps with their two children. Apart from Tomas continually checking his phone for work emails and calls their holiday is a relaxing idyll.  That is, until what they think is a near-death experience changes everything.

As well as being very tense, the film’s observational style makes for incredibly funny viewing.
Östlund centres in on the fight-or-flight response by creating a grand, exhilarating spectacle in the form of an avalanche. He astutely and wittily challenges society’s ingrained gender role expectations in one single scene.

It’s basically a disaster movie about marriage
It’s difficult to look away from Tomas and Ebba’s declining relationship, with their explosive arguments often ending in elongated wailing sessions. Östlund sets up confrontational discussions which will make you squirm in your seat.

While the focus may be on masculinity, Östlund creates some interesting female characters too.
Karin Myrenberg gets the great role of Charlotte, who hooks up with an American toy boy and upends the traditional values of matrimony with a laidback attitude to her open marriage.

Force Majeure was the official Swedish entry in the foreign language film category at the Oscars…   
Östlund’s outrageous man-child response to not being nominated for an Academy Award makes much more sense after you see his darkly humorous film.

Force Majeure is GFF’s Closing Gala; Glasgow Film Theatre, Sun 1 Mar. General release from Fri 10 Apr.

Force Majeure

  • 5 stars
  • 2014
  • Sweden
  • 118 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Ruben Östlund
  • Cast: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius
  • UK release: 10 April 2015

In this penetrating study of human weakness, Tomas (Kuhnke) is the patriarch of a Swedish family holidaying in the French Alps; confronted with what he wrongly thinks is a lethal avalanche, he abandons his family and boots it, pausing only for his gloves and iPhone. Östlund draws out the painfully comic consequences of…

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