Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. Sweden/France/Denmark/Norway, 2014. Beofilm, Coproduction Office, Film i Vast, Motlys, Plattform Produktion, Rhone-Alpes Cinema. Screenplay by Ruben Ostlund. Cinematography by Fredrik Wenzel. Produced by Philippe Bober, Erik Hemmendorff, Marie Kjellson. Music by Ola Flottum. Production Design by Josefin Asberg. Costume Design by Pia Aleborg. Film Editing by Jacob Secher Schulsinger. Golden Globe Awards 2014. Independent Spirit Awards 2014. National Board of Review Awards 2014. Toronto International Film Festival 2014. Washington Film Critics Awards 2014.
A Swedish family on vacation in the French Alps are frightened on their second day when a “controlled” avalanche frightens them and their fellow tourists off the deck of their ski resort. The couple and their two children come to no harm in the event, but how they each behave comes under scrutiny in the days and nights that follow, inspiring a variety of challenges, to their security as a couple, to the mental balance of their children and to their friends old and new upon whom they unleash their emotional burdens. Told with just the right amount of aural and visual flourishes to make it a genius art piece without ever alienating the audience from the progression of its intelligent narrative, this exceptionally sturdy human comedy is made by a filmmaker who is unafraid of his characters’ flaws but does not judge them harshly for them either. Their insecurities are easily sympathetic when surrounded by the vast grandeur of cruel nature on this assumed paradise of a vacation, whose threat is falsely thought to be monitored by humans but whose danger does not let up even at the nerve-jangling conclusion.