Review by Mr. Will Wong
DOWNHILL adds a bit of love to this weekend’s slate or lack thereof Valentine’s Day releases. The English adaptation of Swedish Comedy-Noir Force Majeure directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, alludes occasionally to a bit of edge but ultimately shies away from being the exploratory love story it could have been.
The Film centers on Pete (Will Ferrell) and Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) who bring their family on a getaway to the Swiss Alps. After they encounter a scary avalanche, making it out alive, they are forced to re-evaluate their marriage after they each come out handling it very differently.
DOWNHILL can by no means be faulted for the performances by its leads. Louis-Dreyfuss is all-in and gives a committed portrayal of a woman who holds back her hurt and dismay for the peace of her family, while also sensitive to the fact that her husband is grieving the loss of his father. Ferrell delivers a restrained performance, often oblivious to his own insensitivity, despite clearly loving his family, even if his actions might not reflect it always.
That being said, the Film gives both characters a bit of room to breathe on their own as they re-discover themselves, although we’re not sure it does a thorough job examining their reconciliaton as well as it looks at how they grate on each other’s nerves. Miranda Otto is a scene-stealer as the intrusive and unfiltered Charlotte, but then disappears part-way through the story, a real missed opportunity.
Our biggest disappointment is that the Film doesn’t go as deep as we want it go into helping us understand the couple’s root cause of pain, nor does it take as many risks as it should, at times hinting at being scandalous and provocative, while ultimately being risqué-lite.
Searchlight Pictures release DOWNHILL Friday, February 14, 2020.