Ruben Ostlund is ready to be disappointed

The multi-headed panic machine known as Movie Twitter was spinning out last month over the news that Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The multi-headed panic machine known as Movie Twitter was spinning out last month over the news that Fox Searchlight Pictures has signed Julia Louis-Dreyfus to star in an English-language remake of Ruben Ostlunds Force Majeure, because how dare Hollywood ruin another brilliant foreign-language film, and so on and so forth. But heres the thing, as The AV Club pointed out: now people might actually be interested in seeing Ruben Ostlunds Force Majeure.

If youre one of the millions and millions of people who managed to miss Force Majeure last year, its back at the Lightbox this week along with the Swedish writer-directors previous shorts and features as part of a touring retrospective, In Case Of No Emergency: The Films Of Ruben Ostlund.

Ostlund is fascinated by the roles in which society places people, and the pressure that inevitably builds between an individuals expectations and his or her assigned role. (He digs into that a little deeper in the audio clips that accompany our TIFF interview about Force Majeure.) And hes built entire movies out of those collisions: Play, which screened last night, is basically a film about children whove bought into racial stereotypes, and Involuntary, which screens Saturday (April 11), expands the notion of such prejudgment into a wholesale indictment of Swedish rigidity.

These are comedies, by the way or at least bitterly funny satires. Ostlund is dealing with very real issues here, and his characters inappropriate actions or inactions have real ramifications as in Force Majeure (screening Tuesday, April 14), where a moment of panic threatens both a marriage and one mans very sense of self.

And sometimes the comedy of manners verges on the excruciating, as in Ostlunds first feature, The Guitar Mongoloid, screening April 12 with two of his short films, Incident By A Bank and Autobiographical Scene Number 6882.

Built around the interactions of several disparate characters, among them a cheerful young busker (Erik Rutstrom) and a gang of Swedish street punks, The Guitar Mongoloid is a quietly despairing comedy about the insufficiency of peoples willingness to understand one another. And in that, it sets up all of Ostlunds cinema of idealism and disappointment: hes ready to see people doing their best, but more often than not finding them indifferent to one another. Its just easier to be a dick.


If youd rather see the early, funny films of a more hopeful director, drop by the Royal this weekend for a mini-retrospective of Hal Hartleys first three features. The theatres been screening Harleys latest, Ned Rifle, since last week or so now, its offering rare big-screen engagements of Trust tonight (Friday, April 10), The Unbelievable Truth Saturday (April 11) and Simple Men Sunday (April 12).

I love all three, though Id single out Trust as his masterpiece made immediately after his breakout with The Unbelievable Truth, its Hartley at his strongest, with his wonderful deadpan humour brought to life by Martin Donovan and Adrienne Shelly, the two finest members of his unofficial repertory company, as a volatile computer engineer and the pregnant teenager he befriends.

Yeah, theres a Blu-ray, but theres nothing like unpacking Hartleys truisms about love and friendship with a crowd. And its celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, so thats cool too. | @normwilner

Brand Voices

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NOW Magazine