Oslo, August 31st Reviews
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.
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.
"Oslo, August 31st" is a downbeat character study of somebody who has self-medicated for his depression and now finds that life has passed him by, with him not being the only one in that precarious position. The reality is that it is not over and that he can turn it around, even if he has blown his original advantages. The question remains how much he may want to without his ex-girlfriend Iselin. The movie remains ambiguous about whether the breakup caused his current extreme behavior or whether the behavior drove Iselin thousands of miles away. Just keep in mind that Anders' sister is not currently talking to him, either.
a keenly insightful script and a tour de force performance by anders danielsen lee about a character traversing the unique (yet universal) existential plight with the past, desire, temptation, love, lust, friendship, family, and the banalities of day to day life in a secular world.
his tranquil resignation is affecting and haunting.
oslo, august 31st.
a barren, chilly score adds to the gravitas.
a stunning achievement in film.
[only the second movie i've awarded the full five stars to this year]
The first half of the movie or so is quite gripping and powerful. It introduces the fascinating main character of Anders and explores some deep and thought-provoking themes early on that really pulled me in. I was genuinely interested in how a movie that began so intriguingly and candidly would play out. However, the second half of the movie kind of lost me. Its once thoughtful mood slowly faded and the story just kind of trailed off. Not much interesting happened in this second half--it just kind of stammers on until the end, which doesn't offer much relief.
Overall, I think I understood the themes that the movies was trying to convey and the way they wanted to go about it, and I think they executed that plan well; but I just didn't find it all that compelling of a complete story in the end. I really wished the feeling and depth of the first half carried throughout the rest of the movie, as I felt that this was the best part of the whole movie. But I felt that it just didn't completely follow through with its compelling introduction.