You won't find many comedies in the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language Film category (2003's “The Barbarian Invasions” and last year's “The Great Beauty” stand out as recent, funny-ish winners). But that's not stopping Sweden from backing Ruben Östlund's incisive, family dramedy, “Force Majeure,” as its 2015 contender. The film's first trailer should help skeptics understand the decision.
Picking up an Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Östlund's “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-esque film chronicles a Swedish family's week-long vacation at a ski resort in the French Alps. Everything's swimming along nicely, until a controlled avalanche cascading towards the resort's breakfast patio (the “great force” in question) scares the family into a retreating frenzy. With their lives appearing to be on the line, the father (Johannes Kuhnke) beelines away from the snow to save his own skin. The mother (Lisa Loven Kongsli), on the other hand, instinctually grabs and protects the kids. What follows is existential curiosity and marital chaos.
Out of Cannes, our own Drew McWeeny praised Ostlund for “pulling off a remarkable balancing act of tone throughout,” and that “Force Majeure” “effortlessly offers up an examination of just how difficult it is to define and live up to modern ideas of masculinity.” Comedy may not play well for voters, but maybe thoughtfulness does the trick?
“Force Majeure” hits theaters on Oct. 24.