SNOW THERAPY will be broadcast on Friday 12 February 2016 at 09.40 am on Canal+ Cinema, and Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 02h20 on Canal+
SNOW THERAPY begins with a strange scene that still contains all the themes of the film : a family, a visibly foreign made harangue by a photographer tourist.
Result is a veritable mise-en-scene of a moment of family happiness. The photographer tourist, “director”, is out of scope. We only hear his annoying voice, the English accent disgusting… His voice will yet orders very specific to the family (which faces us)… telling them to gather together, to smile, to ask. The footage is filmed by a camera of a fixity unbearable, installing a form of humour disturbing, as cold and remote. Family, staging, sound, movement, fixed framework and condition.
This way, we were instantly reminded of Ulrich Seidl, who recently had worn the same kind of gaze frozen on the woman Austrian (and his country), in his trilogy, Paradise.
But unlike Seidl, Ruben Östlund leaves two doors of entrance for the viewer.
The first is a double-edged sword, as a function of the’empathy for this family in sweden.
Because the central characters (thirty-quarantine, fathers/mothers) of SNOW THERAPY have this experience and this experience will be neither explained nor questioned.
The starting point of the film is thus admitted as mature and experienced – I don’t know honestly if we can understand these questions when one does not have a minimum setback on the existence. The accessibility to SNOW THERAPY seemed to me to be limited to those with near or far approached these disorders is very specific. I had the impression of a film too personal, too cathartic for her own good…
“A staging of a very high level, in the service of a chilling essay on the couple, the family, morality.”
Anyway, I have been very much recognized in this family. Being myself married/father of two children, the question about the instincts has had an immediate echo in me. What would I do in the same situation ? Ruben Östlund gives his story a kind of universal scope, despite the apparent cultural isolation. The word is given to enough characters to provide a comprehensive view of these reports the family and the couple.
First turning around the cowardice of man, the debate opens gradually on the notion of façade-happy-mandatory in a family, the place of the woman within the couple, the transmission of values (of honor, and gender, among others), the importance to give to the children, the career, the freedom of the individual, and muted, to the place of love in the couple (and, incidentally, in the family).
These questions are, moreover, themselves directed by Ruben Östlund so patient and methodical. The developer installs a routine, and then just break that routine using movements set carefully in place. These same movements will trigger first emotions, and then queries the part of the characters, and then, little by little, a course psychological negative trend that gives meaning to the title “Snow Therapy.
Which brings us to the other gate input in the film, much more open and accessible : the staging.
Every shot, every scene of the film is built on the same kind of schema : Ruben Östlund sets up his camera ; he then composed his framework by many elements (characters included) and fills the space fairly symmetric. It is constantly creating an impression of reflection, physical (the image is mirrored on itself), and psychological (the cinema screen, as a reflection of reality). The most important thing, however, remains the notion of movement. Rare, but decisive, surprising, and intense, the movement is always put in contrast with the fixity of the frame. Sometimes, it is a case of force majeure – the excellent international title abandoned to the laws of accessibility – sometimes of a mechanical movement is outside the frame (the camera), or in connection with (a treadmill for example). Sometimes, the movement is intentional, coming from a character.
Ruben Östlund manages to make it sound, a full-fledged character. A character who also creates the movement (so that visually, this is supposed to be the opposite !) and that will serve as a catalyst or inhibitor to the situations. Make a tangible and physical to be an abstract notion is a feature that we particularly appreciate in the cinema !
Here, one thinks, to Terrence Malick or Naomi Kawase, managing to give a mood and a presence in nature.
Finally, in the case of the two last scenes (the phenomenal), it will be a movement to “static” and “moving”. You’ll find out more when you see the movie – I also recommend you keep any trailer, to strengthen this element of surprise, linked to the movement.
Because Ruben Östlund offers by this stage of the movement, a form of playfulness stimulating for the viewer : what events are likely to upset the routine installed ? What will be the psychological impact ? Because this movement will always be an emotion (anger, cowardice, surprise, pity, compassion, hope, abandonment…) that she even has a reflection in the questions that arise for the characters.
This movement within a fixed framework, such as trigger events and psychological is a mise-en-scene is very strong which allows SNOW THERAPY to compensate for the lack of accessibility on its about.
In the end, the movie appears as very complex, both formally and psychologically. Fascinating and exciting.
AGREE ? NOT AGREE ?
• Original title : Turist
• Achievement : Ruben Östlund
• Screenplay : Ruben Östlund
• Main actors : Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren
• Country of origin : Sweden, Denmark, France, Norway
• Released : January 28, 2015
• Duration : 1h58min
• Distributor : Bac Films And DistriB Films
• Synopsis : A family of Swedish goes a few precious days of vacation in a winter sports resort of the French Alps. At a lunch in a mountain restaurant, an avalanche comes all upset.