Oslo, August 31st Reviews
Director: Joachim Trier
A fairly bleak Cinema Verite art film. It tells the story of a perhaps overly-intelligent 34 year old young man Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie)who has lost his purpose - he sees no point in living. His back story is that he was an addict for five years - he takes anything to avoid his existential angst, ecstasy, heroin, alcohol and so on. So it begins at a rehab clinic where we see him walking into a lake with a weighted rock so he can drown himself, but that is just too hard to endure and he gets out.
He has a day out of the clinic to attend a job interview at an intellectual magazine, so the film is about his journey through that single day. First he meets up with an old friend and his partner and they discuss life in general. The friend is a lecturer but is not particularly happy with his life - he has a beautiful wife and baby but they don't talk or socialize or even have sex, they spend it playing an online game where the wife delights in humiliating opponents.
It's also apparent that he was successful with women, and part of his evening is spent at a party where he meets a pretty young woman who is obviously attracted to him, he is politely charming but this does not lift his spirits. There is an interesting scene in a café where he listens in on people's conversations and how banal it all is. One group of teenage girls mordantly giggle at how a singer who had blown off his head will have problems singing again.
With all this bleak ennui it should not be a surprise as to how it ends. But as I got up, I said to myself - life is what you make it. It's up to you to enjoy it - or not.
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.