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* Downhill *
Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Inspired by the motion picture FORCE MAJEURE by Ruben Ã-stlund Director Nat Faxon, Jim Rash Starring Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus , Miranda Otto, Zach Woods, Zoe Chao
REVIEW: Downhill [M]The only way is anything but up At turns pointedly unpleasant and unfeasibly inert, Downhill plummets into the void where comedy ends and drama begins. Don't look too long or hard at where it's going, or you too might feel as if you've been dropped from a great height. The setting of Downhill is a luxurious Austrian ski resort playing host to married couple Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus ) and Pete (Will Ferrell), along with their two young sons. Early in the family's stay, a controlled explosion triggers an avalanche that threatens to engulf their chalet. Pete grabs his phone and makes a run for it. His loved ones, unable to flee, brace themselves for full impact. Needless to say the rest of the group's holiday will not be a time they will look back upon fondly. Unfortunately, in trying to make light work of Pete's heavy-duty show of cowardice, the movie makes a storytelling stumble from which it never recovers. And when it pushes for deeper insights into what his actions mean for the future of his marriage and children, the findings are disarmingly shallow. Then there is the casting of the two leads, a calculated risk by the filmmakers which doesn't pay off. Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell fail to find the precise kind of understanding which might have saved Downhill from bottoming out. Louis-Dreyfus has considerably broadened and deepened her acting range since the days of starring as Elaine in the blockbuster TV sitcom Seinfeld. Her performance here (especially when ramping up the disbelief and rage in Billie towards her spouse) is actually very, very strong. So strong, in fact, it just highlights how poor a match Ferrell is for the role of Pete. In a sizeable majority of their scenes together, he barely registers alongside the commanding presence of Louis-Dreyfus . Just a side note for anyone who feels they may recall another movie with a similar avalanche cut-and-run to the one depicted here: Downhill is a remake of the Swedish hit Force Majeure, one of the great movies of the past decade most people missed. Go find that, and get right away from this. Leigh Paatsh review from the March 5 2020 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition. heraldsun.com.au
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