Saturday, March 28, 2015

A false sense of priority…


I’m a good father.  I know this.  I don’t need anyone to tell me this for me to know it.  I’m also not a perfect father.  I know this.  I don’t need anyone to tell me this for me to know it.  Being a good father does not mean you are perfect.  In fact, I’m going to tell you a story.

Two years ago, my family went on vacation.  We rented a boat and we went out on the ocean and we looked for dolphins and we floored it head on into waves and we just had a great time…until something happened.  The boat hit a swell and the whole front end was engulfed by the ocean.  It looked, for a brief moment, like we were going to sink.  My whole family was on this boat.  My wife, my daughters, my father and mother.  In a flash of panic, I did something wrong.  I ran to the other end of the boat.  I fled from the wave, leaving my wife and one of my daughters (who were seated near me) to get drenched completely.

No one died.  It was false panic.  The boat flooded and then quickly was…unflooded (not a word, I know) and everyone was safe and sound, and my daughter who was completely soaked thought the whole experience was fun. 

Thankfully my wife laughed it off and didn’t make me feel awful about it.




‘Force Majeure’ tells the story of a family, Tomas and Ebba and their two children, on holiday in France.  They are at a ski resort, taking on the slopes as a family.  One day, at lunch, the family experiences a ‘contained avalanche’ that, for a brief moment, looks like it’s not so contained and is about to kill everyone.  In a panic, Tomas flees.  He grabs his phone off the table and books it out of there, leaving his wife and children behind.  No one was hurt, everything was fine in the end, but the situation shakes this family to its core as Ebba starts to question her husband’s actions, picking at them, unnerved by them, feeling abandoned because of them, and this sends Tomas into a downward spiral of guilt and near madness as he starts to completely unravel.

‘Force Majeure’ asks a lot of poignant questions about relationships and the way that we can perceive actions of others if we’ve never been in their shoes.  It’s so easy to dissect a mistake when we have a different reaction, and yet how would we feel if we were on the other end, if we were the one being dissected?

What I took away from this film so completely was that I personally want to strive to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I’ve been there, sat back and analyzed another person, spoken against their actions, adopted my own assumptions about their nature and uttered those ridiculous words “well I would have done it differently”.  Yes, they are ridiculous words, because unless we have already done it differently, we don’t know that is what we would have done.  Situations, moments, are also always exclusive to one another.  A person who is heroic in one instance could, and most likely will, react differently in a similar circumstance because every single event is isolated and our reactions are always a result of various elements.  The film also shows how we can allow ourselves to become affected by other’s perception of us, allowing it to completely unravel us, even second guessing what we already know about our nature.  Tomas exits the situation unshaken, and yet as his wife starts to pick, dig, pry, accuse and attack, he starts to come undone.  He starts to believe her.  He starts to break apart, tearing at his own actions and feeling as though she is right and he is a failure.

Another aspect of this film that I find alarmingly acute is the way that it attacks gender roles, or explores them through the attack of them, especially within the family dynamic.  Tomas is supposed to be the hero, the savior of his family, and in the eyes of his wife, he has failed.  Tomas is not afforded the opportunity for mistake because this is not the man he is supposed to be.  Even his own guilt is met with a near distain.  How dare he crumble…how dare he fall apart?

But when the shoe is on the other foot…


‘Force Majeure’ is a tremendous film that explores aspects of relationships that we often take for granted, we live with and push aside and never really stop and say “wait a second” because it’s a part of life.  We are expected to be a certain way, and when we fall off from that expectation, we are met with criticism.  The question remains; can you say for certain that you wouldn’t have done the same thing?

You can’t.

A+.  I remember when this was snubbed the Oscar nom last year and I was really upset because it was the only film that had a shot at dethroning the unworthy 'Ida' from the inevitable Oscar win.  I hadn't seen this movie yet, but I just knew it had to be better.  It wasn't just better...it was leaps and bounds and head and shoulders better...like by SO MUCH!

20 comments:

  1. Beautiful review! I threw this in my Netflix queue awhile back when I saw it was on Instant.

    It kind of reminds me of that mass shooting when The Dark Knight Rises came out. They were interviewing a family where the dad took off and ran and left his wife and kids behind in the theater. I watched that and though "well, if that were me, I'd probably leave him." Now I feel a little bad! lol

    (I say little because I'm pretty sure that dude actually got in his car and drove away instead of just staying outside while he wife was shot in the leg, and his two young, like way to young to be at a midnight movie were with her)

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    1. LOL, I just went through this whole review about not judging, and reading that story about the guy who left the theater and I'm judging, because, like, that's gross!

      Split panic is one thing, but it's what you do after the rush that counts, right?

      I hope you get to see this soon! I'd be interested to see your take on it.

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  2. I agree Force Majeure is a great film, and it seems you had a strong personal reaction to it. You can put yourself on both sides, the wife or the husband. I thought she was kind of bitch for humiliating him in public, but he was also an arse for not wanting to admit he ran off.
    I too am sad this didn't get an oscar nom for foreign film, because for me it's better than the other nominees Leviathan and Ida.

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    1. The Oscar snub is a real shame. I loved how neither husband nor wife were really sympathetic, and yet they were both very sympathetic in an odd way.

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  3. One of my very favorite films from last year. It's a slow moving gut punch that sleekly looks at relationships in such an honest way. Tremendous movie indeed.

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    1. Exactly...and what a gut punch it is!

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  4. I wasn't particularly interested in seeing this film, but you make it sound so compelling. I need to add it to my instant queue ASAP; maybe I'll even watch it tonight.

    I love the personal angle of your review too. You write so beautifully, and your choice to reveal aspects of yourself and your life makes your writing even more compelling.

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    1. I hope you do get a chance to see this.

      Thank you for your compliments on my writing. It means a lot. I've always felt that holding back that personal connection takes you too far out of your writing...it's better just to be honest and go with it.

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  5. This is a great review and I have not heard of this film. It seems to showcase more the reality of people in general. We all think we would do the noble thing but I have a feeling most would not. I don't think I would. I remember, as a kid in grade 8, our bus went into the ditch. My friend ( who is now a nurse) made sure the little kids went off the bus first. I bolted to the back door and made sure I was off first and then helped those kids off ( a little) but I knew I was safe. I can see myself run first because we have self-preservation ingrained in us. My mom in law (in the 1970's) had something similar happen and she reacted like you but it involved a snake. They were camping in Florida and her granddaughter was on a hill just above her and her daughter in law. They saw a large snake very close to her granddaughter. She screamed and ran into the camper. She was deathly afraid of snakes which made her react to flee rather than "save" her grand kid. She felt bad all her life about it but I am certain the snake was more scared

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    1. Yeah, instinct is usually to save ourselves. Many of us will turn around and help once we've collected ourselves, and that is truly a noble thing, but to chastise someone in a moment of panic feels ignorant, to be honest.

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  6. I actually liked Ida but loved Force Majeure. I especially loved how much trouble this family's story caused for other couple's staying at the hotel.

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    1. Yeah, we talked about this one heaps, didn't we? It was not just a good movie, but a good movie-going experience, an experience that lasted well beyond the theatre.

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    2. Yes, the splintering of effect on all parties involved (and forced to become involved) was a nice touch. I'm glad that you guys enjoyed not just the film, but the experience!

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    3. Oh, and these are my thoughts on Ida:

      http://afistfuloffilms.blogspot.com/2014/10/staring-into-void.html

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  7. Wow, thanks for sharing your similar personal experience. The film really makes you question what you'd do.

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  8. Great post, I agree with all the points you mentioned, I think I mentioned some similar things when i wrote about it last year.

    I didn't read (or maybe missed) what you thought of the humour? I thought it was dry, but sly, it sorta crept up on you. Just thinking about some scenes from this movie make me chuckle!! Did you find it funny at all?

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    1. I'll have to watch this again, because I never really found it funny...but many have mentioned the humor and so now I want to watch it again to find that aspect of the film.

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  9. Such a great little film. Glad you loved it man. I'm a fan, too, but I do think Ida is better. :P

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    1. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

      Yuck.

      :-P

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