Nat Faxon and Jim Rash‘s Downhill (Fox Searchlight, 2.14.20) is an English-language remake of Ruben Ostlund‘s Force Majeure (’14). The Downhill trailer suggests that while the feature has been slightly massaged to allow for a dab or two of humor, it’s almost an exact copy of the original.
Ostlund’s film basically asks “who are we deep down?” It suggests that some of the noble qualities we all try to project aren’t necessarily there.
The inciting incident is a massive, fast-approaching snowslide that threatens to bury several vacationers sitting on an outdoor terrace at a pricey ski resort, and specifically a husband and father named Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) who succumbs to instinct and decides to run for his life as the wall approaches.
After the danger passes wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) resents what she regards as Tomas’s cowardice and betrayal. Tomas should have either (a) embraced her and their two kids and hunkered down in the hope that the landslide wouldn’t smother and kill them, or (b) quickly leapt to his feet, grabbed her and the kids and yanked them all from their seats and into the relative safety of the resort’s interior. Or…you know, something other than just try to save his own terrified ass.
Will Ferrell plays the chickenshit dad; Julia Louis Dreyfuss plays the resentful wife.
HE viewpoint: Blind instinct tends to rule when a person feels threatened by imminent death. Most of us would hightail it when a mountain of snow is approaching, I think. Any guy who says “in this horrible situation I would hug my wife and kids in the last few seconds we have before being smothered to death”…anyone who insists they would not try to escape suffocation is almost certainly lying.
You can bet that if I were, say, ten years old and I saw an avalanche coming while sitting outdoors with my dad, mom, sister and brother, I would definitely run for cover. Dads aren’t expected to do this, I realize, but human nature is human nature.