In the opening scene of Force Majeure, a family poses for a resort photographer as they begin their skiing vacation in the Alps. Everybody acts happy, and the pictures look really cute.
From that point on, this movie does everything in its power to ruin that image. But this Swedish film isn’t predictable about how it does this — instead, it sneaks up on you with off-kilter humor and tense, carefully calibrated conversations.
At the crux of the film is an incident. The members of the family — husband Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), and their two young children — are pausing in their winter getaway for lunch outdoors at the ski lodge. The resort conducts controlled avalanches, which explains the booming sound that reverberates day and night.