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.

Movie Info

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

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 18, 2012
Box Office: $0.1M
Strand Releasing - Official Site


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
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Oslo, August 31st

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (28)

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.

Full Review… | June 14, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 8, 2013
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | August 31, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

[Displays] an invigoratingly acute understanding of the psychology of insecurity, longing, defensiveness and inward-turning rage.

Full Review… | August 30, 2012
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

"Oslo, August 31st" is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen.

Full Review… | August 30, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A coolly observed yet boundlessly compassionate day in the life of a recovering drug addict, "Oslo, August 31st" breaks your heart many times over.

Full Review… | August 29, 2012
Boston Globe
Top Critic

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.

Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

We begin with what appear to be snippets of scenes from some distant memories. Photographs and home video clips are flashed in a montage. There are voice-overs reminiscing some happy times, perhaps from someone's childhood and growing up over the years.

But suddenly we cut to the central character, Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), as he wakes up in bed and sits in stunned silence, looking sullen, very clearly getting that feeling of waking up to reality. Was that a dream? Had he just drifted away, overcome by nostalgia, back to the days of yore, in times which were very obviously happier?


In the next few minutes we learn that Anders is a recovering drug addict in a rehabilitation program. He gets a day's leave from his rehab home to go on the outside and try his luck with a job interview. Anders has been clean for over 10 months now, and hasn't touched a drug or alcohol ever since. It is no mean feat, as some say, very few people manage to make it to the other side. The film then follows Anders as he spends this day in Oslo, the city he grew up in, catching up with old friends, fixing a meeting with his sister, and amongst other things, trying his hand at getting a position as an editorial assistant at a local publication.

Not through explicit depictions, but through some conversations between characters, we come to know that Anders has had a very disturbing recent past as an addict. His addiction had taken a huge toll on his love life, family life, social life, almost about everything! Completely blinded by it, he is financially drained out, and now, apparently, his parents are forced to sell their family house.


At the outset Anders seems to be doing pretty well with his rehabilitation, being genuinely abstinent for almost a year. It is not unknown that coming out of the drug habit is a herculean task. But can life go back to complete normalcy after one is out of it? Not in all cases...

Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier's "Oslo, August 31st", using Anders as a medium, tries to focus on this very aspect of recovering. Substance abuse not only destroys a person physically; it also hampers the person psychologically, doing irreparable damage to that one thing that contributes significantly to mending anything under the sun, and getting life back on track; that thing called hope!


The trip to Oslo turns out to be a wake-up call, rather than a pleasure trip. Anders is now 34. He sees that his buddy Thomas (Hans Olav Brenner, in a naturalistic, superb, performance) is now happily married, has two kids, living a normal life. Other friends too, have moved on and settled down. In one of the best scenes, in a lengthy conversation between the two buddies, Anders reveals his true feelings. He feels left behind. He feels he has lost precious years of his life. It is an irreversible reality that Anders has to face. And he is too scared of this fact. He certainly cannot start from scratch. His views are full of pessimism, and no matter how much Thomas tries to make him feel better, and tries convincing that things are not as bad as they seem, Anders seems to think otherwise, and even harbors suicidal thoughts! In an attempt to ease Anders' worries, Thomas even goes to the extent of bringing out details of his own life, stressing upon the fact that him and his wife have gradually slipped into this humdrum family life, and that it isn't as happening as Anders might think it is.


One can't help but feel Anders' anguish. Anders Danielsen Lie, with his superlative, heartbreaking performance, makes it all the more believable, as we feel at one with Anders and can instantly relate to him. The filming is minimalist, the acting: amazingly natural, the camerawork: life-like, and there is usage of a hand-held camera for the most part making us viewers feel that it's actually us, following Anders with a camera, as he covers his itinerary in Oslo...it is that real!

The buddies part, with Thomas hoping for the best, and with the promise of meeting Anders in a party, later in the evening, at another couple's place, their common friends.


The job interview gives Anders a ray of hope, as it kicks off well, but a question posed by the interviewer, about a time gap seen in the CV, makes Anders mad and it ends in a disaster, just like he predicts (or wants?). Anders' case is very understandable. He probably belongs to that category of people who like to wallow in pity and have long lost the patience to do anything about it. Or as Thomas even exclaims once, seeing his attitude, "Be a loser. If that's what you want". Although one would like to think that the defeatist attitude, perhaps, stems from the shattered confidence.

With "Oslo, August 31st", which is only his second feature-length film, Joachim Trier has delivered a masterpiece. Rarely does one come across such a restrained, yet frighteningly real and intimate study of a drug addict coming out of the habit. It's a deeply human drama; a crushing portrait of a troubled young man, a representative of all youngsters out there who are a little more adventurous than they should be. By the end of the first half, we are just too well acquainted with Anders. So much so, that during all the events that take place in the latter half of the film, we feel genuine concern and really wish things would get back on track for him, despite the obvious lag the addiction has introduced in his life. And therefore, we sincerely wish that he wouldn't pick up that glass of wine at a party he visits later. We wish he wouldn't follow some friends who decide to go to a rave party.

We keep wishing, for we still have our hopes intact. Only deep within, we are aware of the devastating truth, that Anders has lost his.


Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale

Super Reviewer

Oslo, August 31st Quotes

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