Oslo, August 31st (2012)
Critic Consensus: An upfront study of a drug addict confronting his demons, Oslo, August 31st makes this dark journey worthwhile with fantastic directing and equally fantastic acting.
Thirty-four-year-old Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) is a fortunate, but deeply troubled man battling drug addiction. As part of his rehabilitation program, he is allowed to go into the city for a job interview, but instead uses the opportunity as a way to drift around and revisit old friends. The day grows increasingly difficult as he struggles to overcome personal demons and past ghosts for the chance at love and a new life. -- (C) Official Site
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as Oystein (Man at Bar)
as Thomas (Friend)
as Rehab Counselor
as Rebekka (Thomas' Wif...
as Tove (Sister's Girlf...
as David (Editor)
as Tove (Sister's Girlf...
as Mirjam (Woman Hostin...
as Karsten (Dealer)
as Johanne (Woman Ander...
as Calle (Man Hosting P...
as Petter's Date
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Critic Reviews for Oslo, August 31st
The beauty is in the array of animated faces in Anders' life. And it's in the simple promise and vitality of Anders' face, which serves the film without any regard for being in a film, let alone a tragedy or a poetic vision of darkness and futility.
With a predilection for long takes, alternating between tripod setups and handheld camera work that's reflective of Anders' unease, Trier presents life as an unceasingly tepid stream of the mundane -- with an occasional, exquisite pinprick of hope.
The movie transpires mostly in quiet, engrossing dialogue scenes, and its austere style shares a good deal in common with the protagonist, who seems both opaque and completely exposed.
[Displays] an invigoratingly acute understanding of the psychology of insecurity, longing, defensiveness and inward-turning rage.
"Oslo, August 31st" is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen.
Audience Reviews for Oslo, August 31st
The sober rationality of the young Norwegian intellectual classes provides a perfectly blank canvas on which to paint the conversely complex neuroses of the anti-hero, Anders. Anders is an intelligent and gifted opinionist and writer, but his addiction has left him riddled with insecurity. The film focuses on the most pivotal moment of this young man's life as he's tragically stuck between recovery and regression: that moment is both sprinkled with glimmers of hope and drenched in melancholia. Anders' contradiction is the eternal paradox of the addict, and perhaps Trier is presenting it as an allegory of the modern human condition.
Anders Danielsen Lie gives an incredible performance as the enigmatic hero and the acting throughout is consistently authentic, convincing and engrossing. The soft-focus cinematography (Jakob Ihre) works well with a particularly engaging sound design which, along with very conscious direction, editing and general production design, makes for technically masterful cinema with an aesthetic that is both selectively minimal and enjoyably rich.
Oslo is a tragedy. Its simple, melancholic tone and metropolitan landscapes make the film undeniably reminiscent of the French New Wave - think Hiroshima Mon Amour in present day Oslo. The film is minimal and stylized, presenting social realism in an artistic form without losing any of its dramatic potency to surrealism. Utterly convincing and captivating, it's a shame this film hasn't made more noise because it certainly deserves your attention.
A poignant character study, melancholic and sad, about a man facing a desolate moment in his life when all hope seems lost, everything left is despair and he sees no reason to keep on trying. A deeply involving drama that relies on Lie's compelling performance.
"Oslo, August 31st" is Joachim Trier's sequel to "Reprise," his explosively inventive but wildly uneven debut film that was released in the US in 2008. It's hard to believe that the two films are made by the same filmmaker.
Whereas "Reprise" had style and cinematic inventiveness oozing out of every pore, "Oslo" is flat and nearly devoid of style. It feels more like a TV movie.
It also shows that Trier is still suffering from the principal weakness that marred "Reprise": he's not good at developing stories. He's a talented director, but not a great screenwriter. "Oslo" captures a mood of despair supremely well. But once it depicts this mood, it doesn't have much to say about it. It just shows it. It describes the mood but has no analysis of it or even anything compelling to say about it. It is all Act 1, no Act 2.
If you remember from "Reprise," one of the young men in the gang becomes a literary sensation with his debut novel and then drifts inexplicably into mental illness. He is the main character of "Oslo." When the film opens, he is at an inpatient rehab center, trying to get off heroin, alcohol, and other drugs. We watch him leave the facility on his first free night out. When the patients seem ready, they are allowed to spend an evening on their own in the city.
He goes on several appointments, meeting up with friends and trying to cross paths with his estranged girlfriend. The difficulties he experiences capture exceptionally well his sadness and loneliness. It's not really clear that anyone loves him. But these visits become a bit episodic and repetitious and there are far too many bland sequences of him traveling through the city.
He ends up in a nightclub, which is the worst place for an addict in a fragile state to go. Temptations abound. The film ends on a harrowing but fairly predictable note.
Bottom line: I'd say that Joachim Trier is showing signs that he's having trouble maturing as an artist. I hope I'm wrong about this, but I think we might end up looking back at "Reprise" as Trier's one stand-out film. He's showing signs of being a one-hit wonder.
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