Force Majeure (Blu-ray Review)

force majeureOscar nomination or not, Force Majeure was one of the more critically acclaimed foreign language films of 2014.  The film is essentially a drama, but I can certainly see where so many pronouncements of the film as a dark comedy come from, as this film really does feature some pitch-black humor.  The story of a family vacation spoiled by a moment-of-truth for one of the family members, Force Majeure is now available on Blu-ray.  It looks and sounds great, but how else does it fair?  Find out now!




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This is the story of Tomas (Johannes Bah Kunke), his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), and their two children; who are on vacation, staying at a luxury resort in the French Alps.  Without diving too deep into what actually occurs, on the second day of their vacation, a situation presents itself, which results in Tomas and Ebba taking certain actions.  The decision made by one ends up shaking up the marriage, leading to a struggle for the family to keep it together.

It honestly should not matter a whole lot, in regards to what it is that sets things off, as it happens early on and it is the rest of the film that benefits from this development.  That said, I know there are purists out there who are happy to read this review, but do not want any spoilers.  Keeping all of that in mind, what I really enjoyed about this film is how the pivotal moment affects everything; including the performances, tone of the film, and where a viewer can see things going.  While not a traditional disaster film, we certainly see a form of a disaster, which made me think of The Impossible and how these two films could complement each other in a twisted sort of way.  Both films deal with the involvement of a family in a ridiculous situation, with one being more deadly than the other, but both also focus on how to get back to normal, in a sense.

The difference, beyond a tsunami wiping out one vacation and a possible avalanche being responsible for troubles with the other, is the tone.  Writer/director Ruben Ostlund has made a film that can be realistically played out, given the grounded nature of the story and focus on the very human characters involved.  While he does not choose to overlook how these people would act, it is in the writing and tone that gives this film a darkly comedic edge, making it more enjoyable in the process.  Yes, there are some hard scenes to watch in terms of the cringe-worthy moments and emotions that come into play, but it is very hard to deny how funny the film can be, given the way in which certain scenarios are presented and how some of the characters behave.

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It does not hurt that Force Majeure is a wonderful-looking film.  The use of location leads to some stellar cinematography work, which manages to make great visual usage of a real ski resort in France, as well as reflect the state of the characters, given the various choices made throughout.  Additionally, the film is very well acted, with Kuhnke, in particular, delivering a deeply complex performance that focuses on who he is, who he wants to be, denial, and the state of his own role as the supposed leader of his family.

While a tad long, Force Majeure delivers a consistently entertaining story focused on a family caught up in drama.  It works based on the sharp script that does plenty to stay away from letting the film fall into the trap of being traditionally-handled melodrama.  The ski resort setting helps the film look great, the actors are solid, and the story finds plenty of ways to bring out the humor in what could have been an intense series of fights between all the characters.  It is an all-around impressive Swedish effort.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: As many know by now, I love the look of snow on Blu-ray and this is a film set at a ski resort.  Clearly I got a kick out of the look of this film, but I really should emphasize the strength of this Blu-ray image in terms of the clarity involved, when looking at the wonderful white mountainous surroundings, let alone the great amount of detail found in the actual ski resort.  This is a very good transfer, with the best aspects standing out so well.

Depth: The location and many shots from within the ski resort actually allow for a lot of foreground/background play, which emphasizes a good use of the dimensional aspect.

Black Levels: Nighttime and darkly lit scenes benefit from some nice, deep black levels.

Color Reproduction: The bright colors that come with ski trips are reflected well here, as the blues and grays, among other colors, have a nice warm feel in many instances, while working well in environments that cool them down (outdoors).

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are strong here.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.



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Audio Format(s): Swedish, English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: This lossless soundtrack does a fine job of reflecting the environments depicted both outdoors and indoors.  We get the kind of noise we’d expect from scenes taking place on a snowy mountainside, while hearing the dialogue and various sound effects taking place inside the ski resort are effectively conveyed as well.

Low Frequency Extension: There are some moments that do a fine job of utilizing the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: Appropriate for the tone of the film, the various classical selections mix well with the rest of the film, in regards to the sound effects, dialogue, and ambient noises heard throughout.  The dialogue is the focus, for the most part, but the other elements are presented cleanly and balanced accordingly across the various channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is heard, whether they are talking, arguing, or screaming at each other.



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Unfortunately we do not get more to work with here, as the film only gives us an interview and nothing in the way of a commentary or a making-of for the film.

Features Include:

  • Interview with Writer/Director Ruben Ostlund and Actor Johannes Bah Kuhnke (HD, 16:43) – This is a good listen, as we hear about the development of the film, the challenges, and more, but it also left me wanting more extras.
  • AXS TV: A Look At Force Majeure (HD, 2:37) – A mix of the trailer and the interview
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Previews


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Force Majeure is a twisted take on the family vacation.  It has the kind of minimal story and presentation that I am quite fond of, given the utilization of the characters involved, the strong script, and how we see this story develop.  The Blu-ray is great in terms of its visuals and audio track, but lacks more in the way of extra features, which is unfortunate.  Still, this was a great effort, as far as the film goes, and certainly worth the time of anyone looking for a dark comedy-drama with a neat level of edge.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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