I like a serious story that is spiced with comic relief, and Force Majeure fits the bill. Tomas and Ebba and their two children are a good-looking, clean-cut family enjoying a ski vacation in the French Alps. Everything is just as it should be…until an unexpected incident turns their lives upside-down. As they are enjoying a meal at their hotel’s outdoor terrace restaurant, the resort’s daily controlled avalanche, used to clear the pistes, appears to get out-of-hand, and it looks like the avalanche will engulf the terrace. Tomas picks up his cell phone and runs, leaving Ebba to protect the kids. The snow stops before it does any damage, and Tomas returns as if nothing has happened. But Ebba is shaken. Eventually she confronts her husband with his abandonment of his family. Tomas is in denial, but gradually he realizes that he really did do something selfish and maybe even cowardly.
Enter another Swedish couple, bearded Mats and much younger Fanni. They are borderline hippies who have come to the resort for sex, snuggling and skiing. When Ebba chooses them to be the audience for her confrontation with Tomas, Mats tries to be an emotional mediator, while becoming agitated himself. “No wonder your wife left you,” says Fanni with a smile.
Consciously and unconsciously, Ebba and Tomas try to bring back their family harmony before it is time to leave the resort.
In case you’re curious, but didn’t want to ask, “force majeure” refers to “an event or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled.”