The title of this film is the way into its intent, but it comes down to human versus nature. Not in a Jack London way, but closer to a Dostoyevskian way. It manages to be darkly comic, but more often it is painfully real as the family involved deals with the stripping away of their masks and assumptions about one another and, more generally, the world. Or, it is simply about the struggles of a family on vacation. And, honestly, that view of the film is not going to keep you engaged.
As the husband, Kuhnke (Real Humans) delivers a man struggling with his own actions and the cracking of his own veneer after being tested by unexpected events. Supported in an interesting counterpoint by his friend, Hivju (Game of Thrones), the two become the faceted faces of maleness in modern Western societies.
Kongsli (Fatso), as the wife, navigates a more complex path from the female side. She has to deal with the widening of her world and coming to grips with the reality that the “rules,” as she knows them, may not be rules at all.
In the background of all this are the French Alps: gorgeous and dangerous. That landscape becomes a character in its own right, as a source of joy and an empty gulf.
It was writer/director Östlund’s intent to be more metaphorical than real with this story, but whether that clicks for you or not is going to be a personal matter. It was widely assumed this film would be a hot contender for an Oscar this year, but, like many unexpected twists, it was snubbed. It is certainly worth your time to check out, for the cinematography if nothing else.