Kino Europa has a new program of foreign movies with English (and Croatian) subtitles every Tuesday night.
We went along last night to watch the Swedish film “Force Majeure” (although it’s called “Turist” in Swedish). A young family are in a beautiful French ski resort for their holiday, but their peaceful middle-class lives are affected by an avalanche which passes close by them.
If you’re thinking – ‘ah, disaster movie’, you’d be on the wrong track. There are no physical injuries sustained in this film. All the pain, suffering and torment is purely psychological. The avalanche itself is stunningly rendered and there are some really scary moments on the mountain. Perhaps it is in contrast to the massive scenery and the real damage it can inflict that it seems like the perils of the central family are kind of… mediocre. I think that’s the point: they are so complacent, the father’s masculinity is so facile, their problems are so mundane. Ah, that is modern life!
I was reminded of a scene in “The Girl Who Saw Everything”, a play by Alma de Groen (before you think I’m way more erudite than I actually am, we had to read this play for Year 12 drama back in 1996). In it, a man stops his car and looks out at a field of sunflowers and comes to some life-changing realisation. But this isn’t a TED talk. In real life, people who have ‘life-changing realisations’ by sitting in their car staring at a field of flowers probably aren’t going to change their lives. It’s such a mundanely middle class thing to do.
The best lines in “Force Majeure” come from the young Fanni. At 20 years old she is dating the grizzled viking Mats and is easily the most perceptive and prescient of all the characters. People her age, she says, are not paralysed by thoughts of performing masculinity correctly, or being a ‘proper’ mother, or having the ‘right’ sort of family. The crisis faced by the central family is not a real crisis, she says. Now can we please just go to sleep.
It’s a well-made film with some ludicrous melodrama that is designed to make you cringe. I actually had to hold my hands over my face for some scenes, they were so discomforting. We laughed out loud quite a bit and there are some genuinely scary moments, too. It screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury prize.
For myself, though, my main takeaway was – why on earth would anyone go skiing??