February 10, 2020

SCREEN | Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell Ski 'Downhill'

"Every day is all we have."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Will Ferrell Nat Faxon Jim Rash | Downhill
Searchlight Pictures
Downhill, the American remake of the dryly searing 2014 Swedish farce Force Majeure made by Ruben Östlund about fragile masculinity, takes a much more outwardly comedic approach to the same subject matter. Co-written and directed by comedians Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus (also a producer) and Will Ferrell as the central couple, Billie and Pete, the black comedy mines the dark humour of a careless father's momentary instinctive action in tamer but still very funny ways.

Louis-Dreyfus is sensational as the suffering wife while Ferrell restrains himself and makes some very tricky family dynamic really work. The inciting incident of both this film and its remake remain as an unexpected controlled avalanche reveals the selfish motive of the father running away cowardly only protecting his phone to seemingly leave his wife and teenage sons to die.

Where Östlund really ratcheted up the tension of the father's defeated masculinity paired with the family's underlying wealth and privilege, the English-language remake simmers the family tension before out and out blowing it up in a series of awkward sequences with other characters piling onto Pete's cowardice. He even tries to gaslight his wife by rewriting what happened in his moment of weakness.

Set in an Austrian ski resort, the film also departs by making the family inherently foreign and out of their element. They are surrounded by unfamiliar European wealth contrasted with their own familiar sense of entitlement. Still uncomfortable and squirmy, the jokes may be less biting or sophisticated but the pairing of Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell as oddballs feels right.

Downhill has its highs and lows but Faxon and Rash mostly stay true to the cringe-inducing awkwardness of the original film's vacation from hell premise. However, it's not nearly as risky. The remake plays it far more conventional but adapts the Swedish film's searingly straight humour with an American fish out of water sensibility.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Slashfilm

0 reactions:

Post a Comment