Ruben Östlund’s black comedy about an unexpected implosion of trust set against the slopes of the Alps, “Force Majeure,” represented Sweden at the Academy Awards in 2015 and was a minor foreign-language box-office hit in the U.S. So it makes sense that an American studio, in this case Fox Searchlight Pictures, would want to recreate Östlund’s wincingly funny film about a couple in crisis for stateside audiences. Enter “Downhill,” which finally has its first trailer below.
Here, co-directors/writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (co-writing with “Succession” scribe Jesse Armstrong) cast Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the roles of a husband and wife who, while on vacation in the Alps with their two children, encounter a brush with death. That comes courtesy of an avalanche that sends the husband fleeing from their alfresco dining table to save his own life — leaving his stunned wife and kids to fend for themselves or, presumably, to their own doom. The incident sends Billie (Louis-Dreyfus) into a spiral, and Pete (Ferrell) into a crisis of masculinity. In the Swedish original, this all added up to painful and absurd comedy; here, the slope-side mix-up and its fallout all appear to be played up for broad laughs.
Here’s the official synopsis, courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival: “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.” (This is the remake of the avalanche that sent Twitter ablaze, with users actually believing it to be real, earlier this year.)
“Downhill” also co-stars Miranda Otto, Zoë Chao, Zach Woods, and Kristofer Hivju (who starred in “Force Majeure”). Actors-turned-writer/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash previously helmed the 2013 summer coming-of-age comedy “The Way Way Back,” and together they share a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for “The Descendants” with director/co-writer Alexander Payne. The producers on the film include Anthony Bregman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stefanie Azpiazu, Erik Hemmendorff, and the original film’s director/writer, Ruben Östlund.
Adapted from Östlund’s original screenplay, “Downhill” will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020 and is scheduled to be released on February 14, 2020, by Fox Searchlight Pictures.