Downhill (2020)



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Downhill is, at times, a shot for shot remake of the 2014 Swedish film Force Majeure. Downhill fails to justify its existence and should only be used as a study of what not to do in a film. Force Majeure garnered critical and audience acclaim, Downhill brought in less than nine million dollars. I watched Downhill before Force Majeure and it seemed fine after I finished. After a brief bathroom break, I watched Force Majeure and when I was done, my opinion of Downhill had plummeted.

Downhill is anchored by a serious Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. They deliver fine performances, but not at the same level as Force Majeure. The performance is less emotionally impactful and relies more on situational stimuli than dialog. I was never able to fully buy in to the relationship problems outside of the avalanche event. This was not a problem in the original.

Downhill is an example of when an editor dumbs down a movie to get a broader audience. In Downhill we only see the relationship between Pete and Billie, Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus. Force Majeure looks at the same relationship along with a deeper exploration of the relationship of the friends that are also on vacation. Billie kisses her ski instructor and takes the first step in cheating on Pete, that is not part of the storyline for Force Majeure. The characters are not developed enough in Downhill to justify this attempt at cheating. Pete lost his father eight months ago and is trying to live his life based on a motto I have since forgotten. The effects of his father’s death are not well explored because we jump into the story on the first day of the vacation. The motto is so simple, if I recall correctly, that it could have been gleaned from a billboard advertising soap. It seems to be a crutch to justify otherwise unjustifiable actions that Pete takes. It is a weak premise that never feels believable.

I used to ski quite a bit but never in Europe. I have always wanted to ski in the Alps. This movie, along with Force Majeure reignited a spark in me. The setting is beautiful outside and inside the hotel. If I had to choose accommodations and money was no object I would stay in the Downhill hotel.

There is no reason this movie should exist. Perhaps if you could not read subtitles and had to rely on non-dubbed English dialog it might be worth a watch. If you can read English, or understand Swedish, you should pass on Downhill and watch Force Majeure for a far better movie.

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