Obiter Dicta Issue 6 - November 17, 2014 - Page 18

ARTS & CULTURE 18  Obiter Dicta Film reviews » continued from page 12 children. Expertly directed and frequently hilarious, Force Majeure is a sophisticated thought experiment, provocative and wise, exploring the consequences of male weakness in a world in which men are expected to be strong at all times. Each new wrinkle in the scenario makes you squirm and recognize some rarelybroached truth. It’s a penetrating study of that most ludicrous of social pretences – masculinity, toxic and ubiquitous – with secret reserves of compassion once you’ve peeped out from between your fingers. Building riotously via a series of verbal takedowns as male authority goes limp in the wake of a regrettable impulse, the film becomes a viciously amusing takedown of bourgeoisie complacency and gender stereotypes, chronicling the emotional free fall that occurs when a man and his marriage can’t live up to impossible expectations. A testy, laugh-as-you-wince experience that makes you murmur in amazement as you brood on the darkest corners in our lives, it rubs your face in human frailty and the illusion of security as relentlessly as anything in Michael Haneke’s oeuvre. Östlund skips a perfect ending to reach an ambiguous final act that’s not as neatly satisfying, and it’s not as unflinching as 2010 chart-topper Blue Valentine. Yet, despite the chilly setting and snowy veneers, it has a heart that burns wickedly, airing out the dirty laundry for all to see. Indeed, it’s the harshest date movie to come out of the WW&