Downhill Is an Uphill Slog That Doesn’t Justify Its Remake of the Darker, Subtler Force Majeure

Ideally, we should be able to view remakes as their own creatures, independent organisms with their own blood coursing through their veins. But we’re only human, and if we’ve seen the original version of a picture, a new one can seem instantly substandard, the memory of the first showing through like bones on an X-ray.

That’s the problem—or one of many problems—with Downhill, an English-language reworking of Swedish director Ruben Östland’s 2014 chilly family semi-comedy Force Majeure. In that picture, a family of four—on a ski vacation at a luxe Alpine resort—are shaken when an avalanche threatens to envelop the outdoor restaurant where they’re getting ready to enjoy a meal. The father (Johannes Kuhnke) at first reassures his wife (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and kids that it’s a controlled avalanche and there’s nothing to fear. But as the tsunami of snow rolls menacingly closer, he grabs his phone and runs off, leaving his family behind. Everyone survives, and as the snow-dust settles, the father returns to the table as if nothing has happened. But the illusion of his devotion to his wife and kids has been shattered by one instinctual, selfish act. This little family, ostensibly so happy, is driven apart by an invisible wedge of ice.

Roughly speaking, that’s what happens in Downhill, too. Yet the two movies, despite sharing some DNA, barely resemble one another. In fact, Downhill makes you wonder if the forces behind it actually understood the earlier movie—if they caught any of its dark, needling humor, or grasped the subtle way it explored the potential fragility of marital bonds.

Who knows what they were thinking? Directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash—who, with Jesse Armstrong, also wrote the screenplay, ostensibly using Östland’s story as inspiration—approach the basic plot with blundering obviousness. Will Ferrell is Pete, the hardworking dad who has …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment


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