Oslo, August 31st Reviews
This-"can we escape from our dark past?"-concept reminds me of John Crowley's BOY A.
Anders Danielson Lie gives a remarkable performance in this haunting drama.
"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.
Opening with a Resnais perspective about the entrails of a city and its inhabitants, developing the story with a Moodysson-like minimalist and introspective style, and concluding with an Antonioni fashion, Oslo, 31. august is a depressing character study of a man's weaknesses and his incapability to cope with a society that has condemned him so much for reasons that we are never mentioned so that we do not have any moral or judgmental bias beforehand.
Human hipocrisy is endless. Man thinks he is the perfect juror of the world, even assigning degrees of seriousness to immoral acts, but forgets about his own faults, like if one particular act could be condemned more than another. Anders is a man with an addiction. Either it was his addiction or his personality (most probably both) the ones that caused negative repercussions on the lives of those closest to him. Some decidions taken during his evening leave were driven by emotions rather than carefully premeditated; however, his main intentions are honorable no less than they are important. Few people are capable of going through an addiction; surprisingly enough (hear this), even less people are brave enough to look at themselves in the mirror, accept their condition and face the ghosts of their pasts in order to make ammends and fix their mistakes.
The ending is impactful just as it is fair; maybe because we are used to a satisfying resolution that ties all loose ends, we are afraid of leaving the theater or walking away from our chair with a negative feeling, but that's life. Just when I was an inch away from rating this half a star or maybe even a full star lower than a "perfect score" because the film had left so many emotional bonds and past situations to our imagination so that empathizing with the feelings of the main character became a more difficult task, the ending clarified all doubts for me:
They don't matter. He is a human being after all. It is in the final 6-minute shot in which we know him even better than the rest of the movie had allowed us to do.
- If you're unsentimental about it,
nobady needs me. Not really.