Turist / Sweden / 2014 / dir. Ruben Östlund / 120 mins / drama / starring Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli & Clara Wettergren
Screened as part of the Chicago International Film Festival
A Swedish family’s vacation to a ski resort in disrupted by an avalanche that incites instability between husband and wife. This genre-puzzler that alternates laughs with an impending sense of doom is a festival favourite from Cannes and Sweden’s entry to the foreign language competition at the 87th Academy Awards.
Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) capture the marital fight that goes unspoken and explore the frustrating walls that pop up between stubborn people with opposing points of view. This one, frightening event unpacks a mess of questions and doubts between the couple when they realize they’ve experienced two different versions of the same event.
Writer-director Ruben Östlund (Play, Involuntary) explores gender roles and expectations, but utilizes the sharp, exciting aesthetic of a thriller. Beautiful, fluid shots are captured with the camera on skis, and the looming presence of the hotel and ominous orchestral score leaves you wondering if this domestic drama may end with an axe through a door.
A family friend (played by Kristofer Hivju, In Order of Disappearance) shows up to help mediate, to hilarious results. Östlund uses the staging of the actors to draw unexpected laughs, like when Tomas and Ebba, in the middle of a heated argument, are boxed into a tiny elevator with a stranger.
The avalanche’s arrival – one of the most talked about moments at Cannes this year – immediately became one of my favorite shots of the year. What a stunning, huge effect in a relatively small film.
“So did you see Force Majeure?” was the most frequent question I’ve been asked by other visitors of the Chicago International Film Festival. Östlund’s film is raising questions on masculinity and moral responsibility that audiences can’t stop arguing about – a wonderful bright spot for anyone disillusioned by binge-and-forget TV culture. Östlund is committed to our entertainment and delivers on every level – providing comedy and drama that actively invites the audience to contribute their point of view. It’s both slickly presented and deeply considered, and a shoe-in for my best of the fest list.
by Taylor Sinople