As everyone probably knows by now, Downhill is the remake of the highly acclaimed film Force Majeure (2014). Its premise is simple, a family goes on a skiing holiday; while there, the family undergoes a series of events that cause them to re-evaluate their relationships, love and life in general. It’s a thought-provoking family drama.
Downhill is broadly described as a black comedy and while there are humorous moments, Will Ferrell fans don’t expect a “typical” movie and you won’t be disappointed. In Downhill, Ferrell is the stunned-mullet husband. He doesn’t get what he’s done wrong and, in fact, is insistent that his wife (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is wrong in her recollection of the moment when he abandoned his family. The point scoring is all too cringeingly familiar as they argue in front of embarrassed guests – played by Zoe Chao (Strangers) and Zach Woods (Silicon Valley). In fact, the best comedy comes from two other actors. My personal fave is Kristopher Hivju (yes, from Game of Thrones) as the bemused ski-ranger who refuses to accept Billie Staunton’s response to the controlled avalanche. It’s a fun scene, contrasting European -v- American attitudes. But the scene-stealer of the movie is Aussie Miranda Otto. As an over-the-top sexually liberated female, she shows the Stauntons (especially wife Billie) that there is more than one way to be married.
In all, the film is a challenging watch. It spotlights contemporary family issues: time spent on electronic devices, time spent with each other, what are our roles, how well do we really know each other. It’s a mature film and one that might be too subtle if you’re hoping for Blades of Glory-type-fare. For anyone who has been in a long-term relationship there will be many relatable moments. It will certainly provoke after-movie reflection. The ending is enigmatic, and I wish I could see it again; so, pay close attention. Look, I’m no Will Ferrell fan. The opposite, in fact. And Downhill has given me a grudging respect for his acting ability. Who knows, I might even binge a few of his other films—nah, just kidding. I also hope the movie prompts people to see the “original”. While it’s easy to say there are some missed opportunities in Downhill, the film stands on its own. Think the two versions of The Office. I recommend Downhill for a date-night film and treat yourselves to a glass of something and a half-hour conversation afterwards.