An ominous “controlled avalanche” at a Swiss resort sparks a tidal wave of emotion when Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) discovers her work-addicted husband, Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), places his own safety, and that of his smartphone, ahead of their two kids. It’s a conspicuous moment of indecision that plunges their marriage (and Thomas’ sense of manhood) into jeopardy. Unrest lurks beneath every one of director Ruben Östlund’s strikingly placid exterior shots. Arrhythmic editing patterns and crisp dialog further contribute to audience anxiety. Thomas’ failed test of bravery becomes Ebba’s prime topic of discussion. Her account of the story to a visiting couple is as harrowing (and economically staged) as the near-calamitous cascade. Most unexpected is the film’s dissident sense of humor, trading comedy for tragedy with the snap of a finger in this edged assault on the patriarchal system. One suggestion: leave 5 minutes before it ends and draw your own conclusion. (2014) — Scott Marks
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