I have never liked Will Farrell movies very much, but when I saw the trailers for the film Downhill, I thought this might be an exception. Downhill is a remake of a Swedish film called FORCE MAJEURE, which I had never seen. Apparently, it can be found on Hulu so I may dive into the original after I finish here. Reportedly, those who have seen both say that the original is considerably better than the remake.
Of course, without that coloring my opinion, I was torn on this film. There were parts that I thought were decent, but there were too many pieces that did not work.
Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Pete (Will Farrell) Stanton are a married couple who have been having some marriage problems, mainly stemming from Pete’s father’s death. So they decide to try and work on their marriage by heading on a ski trip to the Alps with their two sons.
Problem comes when, during a lunch at an outdoor restaurant, there was a controlled avalanche that sent snow roaring down the mountain toward the family. While Billie gripped her two sons, thinking that they were about to die, Pete grabbed his phone and ran away, leaving his family in the avalanche’s wake. When the avalanche turned out to be way better than it appeared, Pete returned to his family, who now looked at him in a different light.
The remainder of the movie dealt with (kind of) the anger and resentment directed toward Pete and with Pete’s guilt and grief over the choices that he made.
As I said before, I do not like Will Farrell’s movies very much. However, I will say that I think he did a really good job in this movie. Farrell was considerably more restrained than he has been in a movie for quite awhile. He showed the hidden feelings of Pete throughout the entire film, trying to find a reason to believe he had done the right thing. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was excellent as Billie the wife who had her eyes opened to the man she had married and who had to struggle with the anguish of his decision.
However, there was not much chemistry between the two actors and I had a hard time buying that they were together. The two kids (Ammon Jacob Ford & Julian Grey) were really underdeveloped and had little to do in the film outside of watching videos in their room.
The film makes you think it is a comedy because of the two lead actors involved, but there was little funny about this. Apparently, the original film was a dark comedy, but to call this a dark comedy would not be apropos.
While the movie was only 86 minutes long, it felt considerably longer than that. The film was awkward and uncomfortable, and not in the good way. There is no real resolution of the story and many of the situations were left unsettled. Though there were some good individual moments, the sum does not add up properly.
I am going to avoid making any puns using the title of the movie in this review. Where as there were some positives here and there, Downhill was … well, you get the point.