DOWNHILL – Film Review

Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple, Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Pete Staunton (Will Ferrell) are thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other.

It’s most definitely been said already, but I just can’t help myself. Downhill is the perfect title for this movie. It’s an American remake of a widely acclaimed French film, that being Force Majeure by Ruben Östlund, that fails at adapting it in virtually every way possible. It starts off semi-watchable, as we are introduced to the characters of Billie and Pete, but just as their lives start to spiral downhill, so does the rest of the film.

The biggest issue with the film isn’t the source material. The original Force Majeure picture was an incredibly strong drama that was actually emotionally powerful and thought-provoking. No, the main problem with Downhill is the fact that nothing really happens. At all.

With a running time of only eighty-six minutes, there are few times in where we as an audience are able to sit back and breathe after watching a scene. It’s strange because there are a few argument scenes involving our lead characters, but instead of being emotionally invested in it, it just comes across as tired and uninteresting.

Will Ferrell (left) as Pete Staunton and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (right) as Billie Staunton in Downhill (2020).

One thing I can say is that this movie does feel remarkably authentic and real. It genuinely felt as if I was peering in at the lives of this married couple and their kids. The issue, though, is that their lives are so drastically boring and uneventful that you don’t want to see their story. After about twenty minutes in, you’ll want it to be over already.

But, speaking of the leads, Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus do deliver two surprisingly rich and riveting performances. Particularly Louis-Dreyfus. She sells every single scene that she is in, and the dynamic between her character Billie and Ferrell’s character Pete felt palpable.

They boast great chemistry on screen with one another, it’s just that they really don’t get a whole lot to do with this material. It makes me wonder why they even agreed to be in this film in the first place? Did it have to do with needing a little extra money? Or were they just eager to be in a remake of a widely beloved French film? We may never know the answer.

But what I do know is that a lot of people are going to be bored by this movie. It’s extremely dull and devoid of any real entertainment value. Sure, it contains some great scenic cinematography by Danny Cohen and boasts genuinely strong performances, but at the end of the day, that’s really not enough to go out and see a movie. All films need to have one thing – a good story. This film did not have that.

Incredibly boring and uninteresting, Downhill is a gigantic missed opportunity due to its bland screenplay, even if the two lead performances are strong.

Overall Grade: D

MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual material

Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, Miranda Otto, Zoë Chao, Zach Woods, Kristofer Hivju, Alex Macqueen, Julian Grey, Ammon Jacob Ford, Giulio Berruti

Directed by: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Distributed by: Searchlight Pictures

Release Date: February 14, 2020

Running Time: 86 minutes

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