Manager – Jim Rush, Nat Faxon
Cast – Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Miranda Otto, Christopher Heavyjoy
The couple has been forced to reconsider their relationship after an incident that took place during a skiing holiday in the downhill run, the English remake of the Swedish drama Force Majeure. Oscar-winning writing director duo Jim Rush and Nat Faxon usually follow Ruben Ostlund’s original film, but sharply deviate from it towards the end and drop their film cascade.
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Will Ferrell as the Staunton family, who come to the ski resort with their two teenage sons in the opening scene of the film. It is a journey the family has undertaken to help Piet (Ferrell) cope with his father’s recent death, for which Piet never hesitates to gather. He raises the subject during dinners, meetings with other travelers and even in an argument with his wife Billy.
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After a few days on the slopes, the family will have lunch in a beautiful open-air restaurant overlooking the majestic Alps. Explosions that cause controlled avalanches can be heard remotely. When the Stantons decided whether or not to order soup, a particularly strong explosion caused an avalanche that quickly found its way to their restaurant. At first, guests watch with a slight curiosity, suggesting that – like most controlled avalanches – it will whistle before it hits the city. But the snow cloud is getting bigger and bigger and the rumbling under your feet is getting louder and louder. Suddenly there’s panic when everyone takes cover. Everyone, including Pete, who left his family at the table, had no choice but to hold on to each other.
After a few moments, a gust of snow comes in and Pete returns like a sheep. Billy and his two children are shocked by fear, too bewildered to speak. I thought they still had the soup.
But there remains a cold, unspoken resentment between Pete and Billy for several hours until she explodes in the same scene when she confronts him with what he has done.
Downhill resembles her cousin Anubhav Sinha Thappad in many ways, a recent film that also tells the story of a woman who is forced to reconsider her marriage after her husband’s shameful act. In both films – and of course in Force Majeure – one wonders whether a single incident is enough to force someone to reconsider the basis of his or her marriage. Pete’s selfish sprint opens a whole pot full of worms he doesn’t want to clean up.
This photo, published by Fox Searchlight, shows Alex McQueen (left), Miranda Otto, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell in a scene from the raid.
After the confrontation, Billy insists on spending time away from him, which in one scene sends him on an adventure with a handsome ski instructor and in the other scene allows him to openly discuss his own needs and desires. Later, when Billy and Pete see a couple of Indian newlyweds giggling about their day, he tries to overcompensate and she takes her hand, a gesture she makes with Melanie Trump.
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The origins, like those of his brutal American heroes, are much more abstract than an emotionally restrained state of force majeure. He has less patience for silence than the Swedish original absolutely revealed. The prolonged inconvenience in this film has been replaced by a fairly simple approach. Though it was hard enough to sympathize with your father in a situation of force majeure, Will Ferrell has the quality of sympathy that crushes any anger you might have toward him.
The raw feminist vein of the downhill film also seems a little drawn to itself and completely unleashed by the terrible moments at the end of the film. And here’s the problem with the remake – Rash and Faxon seem to have misunderstood the essence of the original and presented a morally controversial black and white solution scenario.
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