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'Force Majeure' is a superb exploration of the consequences of male weakness

'Majeure' resembles an Ingmar Bergman movie on the slopes as it depicts the troubles between the father and mother of a Swedish family who are on vacation.

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Force Majeure

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

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In the superb “Force Majeure,” a vacationing Swedish family is having lunch on the veranda of a ski resort in the French Alps when a nearby “controlled” avalanche sends everybody into a panic – most of all Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), who, grabbing his cellphone, bolts from the table, momentarily leaving behind his wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), and their two children. This brief act of cowardice, which Tomas for a time denies before breaking down in shameful admittance, eats away at Ebba and slowly rots their relationship.

At times, as the vacation morphs into a baring of souls, “Force Majeure," written and directed by Ruben Östlund, resembles an Ingmar Bergman movie on the slopes. Ebba’s obsession with Tomas’s sprint becomes almost pathological. It’s a relief when Östlund introduces a couple of Norwegian friends, the divorced Mats (Kristofer Hivju, from “Game of Thrones”) and his 20-year-old girlfriend, Fanny (Fanni Metelius), to leaven the load. Divided into sections corresponding to the vacation’s five days, “Force Majeure” is ultimately about something not often explored in film: the consequences of male weakness in a world in which men are expected to be strong at all times. Grade: A- (Rated R for some language and brief nudity.)

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