Force Majeure and Brene`Brown’s The Courage to Be Vulnerable

Force Majeure is so original that I wonder why it’s missing from Oscar’s best foreign films nominations. The acting and sound design were impeccable. And while running this morning, listening to NPR’s On Being, I realized the importance of an important theme that may be lost in the shuffle of the film’s moral question: when faced with calamity, do you save your family or yourself?

Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli and sexy rogue Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane of Game of Thrones) were spot on as husband wife and brother respectively. Even minor characters, the lascivious open marriage ski bunny and the ski lodge maintenance man who’s quiet intensity heightened the suspense, were also well written and executed.

Reminiscent of “The Shining”, the sound design in this movie was fabulous. Clunking ski lifts and ski tows, growling snow plows and convulsing shocks of ‘controlled detonations’ all added to eerie mood that we mere mortals are only marginally in control of our environment.

All this being said, the movie does have its editing imperfections, meaning, as with many films, darlings needed to be killed. I understand the justification for some of the family communal bathroom scenes, the shoulder to shoulder tooth brushing for instance, was a great way to portray family as machine cogs functioning in the day to day ennui. The urination scenes (one each, mother and son), on the other hand, could have been nixed to tighten the story’s tension.

The theme of man as absolute protector, and the contrary, man void of absolute guardian strength as therefore, worthless, is an idea close to my heart. It was the inspiration of my screenplay titled “Buck Up”, about men who feel they have been stripped of any power simply because they have emotional needs. Brene` Brown, an author and sociological researcher, told a poignant story of being approached by a man after a speech and asked if she had ever done a study on men and shame (as she had with women). He explained that his wife and children would prefer to witness his death rather than see him ‘fall off the horse’ (meaning display weakness). This was a profound idea rarely seen in film. Bravo Force Majeure!