Spoiler Interview: Ruben Östlund on ‘Force Majeure’

What about the musical choice? The choice of classical music. Was that your plan from the beginning or did you find that in the editing room?

No, it was… I mean, the producer Erik Hemmendorff, he sent me a YouTube clip of… the title is, “Kid Shreds the Accordion.” It was like this young kid playing Vivaldi’s Summer, it’s actually one accordion that is playing in the film, but it sounds sort of rich.

It does! I would never have thought.

But he’s like so intense. Rahhh! It was highlighting the emotions of the family and what’s going on inside the character of Tomas, and I also wanted to combine that very high, intense feeling with parts of the film where we go really deep into awkward silences where we don’t know how we should react. [Laughs.]

I think my favorite musical cue is this one long, static shot where the two men are at a bar, and it’s finally like, everything’s okay now. And then a woman comes up, “My friend thinks you’re really hot,” and then comes back, “I’m sorry, no she didn’t.”

[Laughs.]

Why did she even come back to say that?

That is actually something that happened to me. 

 

Force Majeure Cast

 

Really?

Yeah, it was six or seven years ago. I was in the divorce with my ex-wife, and you’re fragile at that moment of course. I was at a film festival, the Gothenburg Film Festival, I was at the bar. “Do I want to be here?” The music is like pounding. Suddenly this girl is walking up to me. “Hi, this is so funny. My friend standing over there, she thinks you are the most good-looking man in the whole restaurant.” And it’s like, okay! She goes away, and I can see a life in front of me here…

 “I needed that boost today.”

Exactly. And I just got boosted up when she’s tapping on my shoulder. “What, what?” “Oh, this is so embarrassing. Not you. She was actually pointing at someone else.” It was just like that.

But also, “Why did you need to come back?” That’s why I made the girls in the restaurant Russian. Maybe we can read in some cultural differences.

“We don’t believe in lies.”

No, no. No.

Did you ask if you placed? “What am I, like third…?”

[Laughs.] Yeah, that would be a really funny way to end that scene. “Okay, then who IS the most good-looking man?”

Yeah, right? “What’s my competition, here?” That’s what I would want to know.