Force Maejure 4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
The Way He Looks 4 stars
I saw 2 films Sunday that we just might see again when the ArtHouse Meetup goes to the Annual Global Glimpses at National Geographic in February: Force Maejure and The Way he Looks. (Global Glimpses shows the 5 Oscar foreign film nominees over one long weekend.)
Two years ago I might have had a different reaction to Force Maejure. Then last year a good friend was being mauled by 2 dogs on our bike ride in central Virginia and, thankfully, I quickly jumped in to help. She’s okay now but it was horrible, and in retrospect I’m so glad that my instincts were the right ones–do anything to help someone in duress.
But what if my instincts were the opposite? Suppose I just stood there in fear? That’s the basic question among many that Force Maejure asks. How responsible are we for our split-second, reflex decisions? Can we change that? Can we still be a good person? And what about gender roles?
The basic plot of Force Maejure is that a good-looking Swedish couple and their two children (maybe 8 and 10) go on a skiing vacation in the French Alps. They’re having a scenic lunch on the terrace when it appears that an avalanche is coming their way. The husband grabs his phone and runs off. The wife grabs and shelters the children. The rest of the film deals with the aftermath, and it’s not easy. The director does a skilled job of bringing another couple in and not stereotyping–lots of layers in this film.
There are also a few layers in The Way He Looks, by a first-time director from Brazil. Leo is a high school student and best friends with Giovanna. Leo is blind, but that seems to bother others much more than him. A new student, Gabriel, enters the picture and creates some interesting plot twists. But the film works because it treats Leo with respect, and while not sugarcoating anything, makes us admire him more than feel sorry.
The young actors are amazing; I assume that the actor playing Leo is not blind but I need to check. Either way, he is extraordinary. “Am I handsome?” he asks Giovanna. He is, but she has a hard time answering. I saw the film at the West End Cinema but I don’t think it will be there much longer. As I said, we might not see it again until Global Glimpses.