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?
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!