Force Majeure is a new Swedish/French movie not yet released in the UK, but which has already won the Jury prize at Cannes and been nominated for a Golden Globe as ‘Best Foreign Language Film’.


What’s the story?

The plot revolves around an avalanche ‘near-miss’ near the start of the film.  The family of four are having lunch at the time, but as a controlled avalanche on the slope opposite looks like it might smother them, Tomas, the father, grabs his phone and runs off.

The rest of the film deals with the consequences of Tomas’ action and the impact on his relationship with his wife, Ebba, his children and their friends, as well as how he views himself.

avalanche scene

How does it look?

Force Majeure is a very attractive film to watch.  The style reflects the space and bleakness of the mountains, using a wiped-out palette (very similar to the snow-based drama Fortitude, currently running on Sky Atlantic).

The cinematography shows off the beauty of the mountains and the framing is consistently symmetrical, reminiscent of Kubrick or Wes Anderson.


Anyone I know in it?

Unless you’re Swedish the only person you might recognise is the beardy chap who plays Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones.

You might also recognise Les Arcs – the unnamed French resort that hosts this challenging holiday.


How does Les Arcs look?

The resort must be happy with how it looks in the film – whenever we see the family skiing, the slopes are consistently empty and they rarely have to share a lift with anyone, let alone queue for one.

The contrast between the way the snow groomers keep the slopes in perfect condition and how Tomas’ life is falling apart is regularly made.  As Henry Barnes put it in The Guardian: ‘ Imperfections are smoothed out overnight, but the risk of collapse is ever-present.’

If the film was to be believed you’d imagine that Les Arcs blasts for avalanches pretty much every night, throughout the night, but at least it suggests they take the safety of their guests seriously.

On that point, it’s positive to see transceivers used off-piste and helmets on everyone on the mountain.

off piste

Should I watch it?

This is a tense, often blackly comic, drama that features the Alps in a supporting role. As long as your marriage isn’t on the rocks, then of course you should watch it.

7/10 – If this is the sport you know and love (6/10 for non-believers)



Article by Iain Martin