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All shook up

by David Lamble

Norwegian family meets seismic danger in "The Quake." Photo: Magnet Releasing
Norwegian family meets seismic danger in "The Quake." Photo: Magnet Releasing  

This week a Norwegian film delivers a cautionary revenge-of-nature tale that will be hard for many Bay Area residents to resist. "The Quake" (opening Friday) may strike some as a 106-minute preview of coming attractions. The film depicts the struggles of a four-member family to survive and find each other in the aftermath of a quake that rocks Oslo.

In San Francisco, folks have been waiting for "the big one," the first city-leveling earthquake since April 1906. In this captivating epic drama, Norwegian director John Andreas Andersen reveals that Oslo had its own life-altering seismic event in 1904. A character says, "It happened once, it can happen again!"

The makers of "The Quake" have to contend with the clich├ęs of natural-disaster movies. They largely succeed, in an emotionally complex drama that should resonate with Californians reeling from months of fires and floods. Drawing on his skills as cinematographer for the critically praised film "Headhunters," Andersen delivers five to 10 minutes of high-energy special effects, after which some American viewers may find themselves unhappily stuck inside a family-in-peril tale where everybody speaks Norwegian (with English subtitles).

The film comes with the same sound geological underpinning as the team's previous work "The Wave" (2016), in which a large rock falling into a fjord created a monster tsunami, giving residents of the tiny fishing village of Geiranger a few precious moments to flee. Like the earlier film, "The Quake" is concerned with how a scientist, his wife and teenage children cope when their previously stolid society comes apart at the seams.

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