Metal My Movie - Force Majeure

When it comes to the country of Sweden and Metal music, most people often associate it with the subgenre of death metal. So why have I come to review this family drama about a ski trip in the French Alps? Is there anything metal about this film, other than the fact that Kristofer Hivju from HBO’s Game of Thrones co-stars? Maybe if we looked further at the sound design of the film and its central premise, there can be some metal aesthetics to be found.

Like many other genres of music, metal songs often deal with the issue of trauma as a central thematic element. Director Ruben Östlund uses a natural occurrence of trauma to set the plot of his film in motion. During lunch on a family ski trip, there is a loud boom as an avalanche gun goes off, preventing future deadly snow slides. This, however, causes a small avalanche to start rolling in as the guests and the family are frozen in shock, with most saying it is just a controlled avalanche, with nothing to worry about. But once it comes in close to the restaurant, panic sets in as everyone scrambles for safety. Thomas, the father of the family (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) runs away only with his cellphone from his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and their kids. This leaves them to duck under the table.

The tension in the relationship is never far gone after this moment. Thomas claims that he ran to get help, however, Ebba claims he just ran away from the situation. There is another scene where we see the snow up close moving in on the camera before a complete whiteout, bringing back the notion of the film’s central theme. With all that occurred, the family now has to come together to support each other to get through this family vacation. 

Loud booms and metallic sounds create the soundscape to this family drama. Putting aside the soundtrack which included hyper violin strings as the main score to the film or its one techno club beat in another scene, the sound design can be considered as industrial. Firstly, on the slopes you have the avalanche gun that sounds it’s thunderous warning. Secondly, there is Ebba’s day of skiing alone as we hear the metallic clicks of the ski lifts that take you up the hill. However, maybe the most metal scene of the movie comes when Mats (Kristofer Hivju) takes Thomas on a guys ski day. Mats makes Thomas do a form of therapy that involves screaming to let out all the emotions while on top of the hill. This is a recurring element, as Thomas goes into a bar where young men are partying but also screaming as part of having a good time.

With all due respect to the two leads in the recent Hollywood remake of this film, titled Downhill, it fails to make the emotional connections that Force Majeure includes. Dowhill is played as a straight up comedy instead of an exposé into the human emotion and how it relates to trauma. Additionally, Kristofer Hivju’s character is used effectively in the original film, rather than the limited cameo he receives in the Hollywood remake. The scenes where both the mother and the father have their ski day alone are also better handled with maturity, rather than the straight up mid life crisis plot of Downhill

Next week Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous celebrates an anniversary review and gets the Metal My Movie treatment. This is probably the last best Crowe film according to popular opinion. If you’ve got any suggestions for a Metal My Movie segment, you can contact me at