starring Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wttergren, Vincent Wettergren
written and directed by Ruben Östlund
by Walter Chaw As so few people saw the magnificent The Loneliest Planet (including a few who actually reviewed it), it's hardly a spoiler to say that Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure is essentially the droller, married version of Julia Loktev's masterpiece of relational/gender dynamics. Set at an exclusive ski resort in the French Alps, the picture follows handsome workaholic Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and his beautiful wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), as they spend a week with their two adorable children in what should be a winter paradise. On the first day, something terrible happens and, more to the point, Tomas doesn't act or react in the way one would expect of a husband and father, leading to a series of increasingly awkward conversations between not only the couple, but also their friends Matts (Kristofer Hivju) and Matts's much-younger girlfriend, Fanny (Fanni Metelius). The brilliance of Force Majeure is how carefully it builds itself to the "big event" and then, after, how perfectly Östlund captures the way people talk to one another, whether married with children or just starting off. It's a withering essay on masculine roles and ego--one, too, on the parts women play in easing or exacerbating those expectations. It's amazing.