Posted by martinteller on August 1, 2015
We all like to think we’d be the hero in a crisis situation. Especially when it comes to protecting our loved ones. But in the heat of the moment, a primal instinct can kick in. A survival instinct. This movie explores that scenario as a father abandons his wife and children in the face of peril. And more importantly, what happens afterward.
You could argue endlessly about what a person’s split-second instincts say about him or her. Is it a sign that Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) is a fundamentally selfish man, or not built to be a provider? Or is it unfair to judge a person based on their snap decisions? Perhaps what’s more important is how they deal with it afterwards. This is the opportunity to take responsibility… to “man up” as one might put it (and Tomas certainly feels his masculinity is in jeopardy).
Watching Tomas and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) try to keep it together makes for compelling viewing that raises questions about trust, identity, and even fidelity. On the one hand, if you can’t trust your partner to “man up”, can you trust him to be faithful? On the other hand, perhaps monogamous relationships aren’t the ideal, and putting all your faith in one individual is just asking for disappointment. The film explores this possibility as well.
Writer/director Ruben Östlund examines such serious subject matter with a nice touch of dark humor. You can’t help but laugh at Tomas’s phony theatrics, or the lame obviousness of a staged attempt to present a unified couple to the children. However, some of Östlund’s offbeat flourishes are a bit ostentatious, and come off as artistry looking for a purpose. Despite a few missteps, a quite worthwhile movie. Rating: Very Good (82)