SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Based on the critically-acclaimed Swedish film, Force Majeure, directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash put an American spin on the French classic with Downhill. Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play Pete and Billie taking a ski vacation in the alps with their two sons.
Let’s start off by stating Downhill is not your typical wacky ski comedy with pratfalls and snow gags. In a way, it’s more like a theatrical play as the comedy and drama take place in various warm locations and uses the actual skiing as scene transitions.
The structure of the story is simple. Pete and Billie are on a rare family vacation, but by God, Pete wants to make it a memorable one. But Pete is distracted as he finds out his co-worker is nearby with his girlfriend. Oh, the single life.
“Billie quickly grabs her two sons and covers them with her body…Pete, on the other hand, runs inside the resort for safety.”
While in the Alps, those in charge have begun initiating controlled avalanches as marked by the occasional, yet very loud, explosions. One such blast took place in the afternoon and the avalanche that followed rages straight toward the family having lunch on a resort deck.
As parents instinctively do, Billie quickly grabs her two sons and covers them with her body in hopes of saving their lives. Pete, on the other hand, runs inside the resort for safety. Thankfully, no one was hurt in any way and lunch continues…for Pete. But the event of life, death, and cowardice force a sharp pivot in way the rest of the film plays out.