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This intimate portrait of an addict manages to be quiet and profound at the same time. You will not have to be a junkie in order to put yourself in the skin of the protagonist, to understand his sense of inadequacy and melancholy. This sadness though is never exploited during the film, just realistically followed and observed during a single day.
Norwegian language with subtitles
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.
Atmospheric film describing the descent of a recovered addict who has achieved so much and has his life ahead of him.
Asks the viewer to deliberate the meaning of ambiguity and looks damn good the whole time.
In this observant, slow-burning character study about a former drug addict who's trying to keep his sobriety in check, long conversations and still, slow shots say more than the casual film-goer might think.
Throughout Joachim Trier's mesmerizing sophomore feature, Oslo, August 31st, a recovering drug addict (played brilliantly by Anders Danielsen Lie) visits friends and family members-the most important people in his life-while on leave from rehab for a day in search of an avenue to start anew. Ironically, it's someone he's hardly acquainted with, someone with whom he exchanges words about a former lover, that perfectly encapsulates his plight and helps us put the film in context:
"This isn't about your addiction."
As much as Oslo, August 31st talks about the struggles to overcome one's demons and the stigma people like our lead character-Anders-carry, it's much more personal than universal. Yes, Trier bleakly and intimately lays into us the idea that addiction isn't a characteristic exclusive to the homeless, jobless, family-less lower class. But the bigger takeaway relates specifically to Anders' case.
It's arguably more hopeless because he's squandered a keen intellect and a generally supportive network around him, and he knows it. The reason he's granted a day away from his rehabilitation facility is to interview for an editorial assistant job at an Oslo publication. He actually impresses the interviewer, but when pressed about what he's been doing the last few years of his life, Anders freaks out and leaves. He stops by a friend's house for breakfast, and though the two have plenty to say to each other, Anders' heart isn't in the conversation.
Another key encounter happens late in the film when Anders crashes a party at an ex-girlfriend's house. They have a moment together, but Anders realizes shortly thereafter that he was grasping at straws. Not long thereafter, you'll realize where Oslo, August 31st is heading, and it's a place Anders might have had on his mind for quite some time.
The film is straightforward and subtle, and though it clocks in at under two hours, it feels longer. Trier lets his camera linger on moments, encounters, and conversations longer than one might expect, but it's all done to develop both a connection with Anders and this sense of somber uneasiness that, more than anything else, propels the film forward.
As you might expect from a statement like that, Oslo, August 31st isn't exactly a happy movie, but it's powerful and it derives that emotional power naturally, without resorting to manipulation. If you caught Trier's debut-2006's Reprise-you'll definitely buy what he's selling here. If you missed that film, you're in store for an awesome Norwegian double feature sometime soon.
Good movie hard to watch. Smart and quick.
Bleak and beautiful portrayal of despair in the form of a young man trying to escape his destiny.
Oslo, 8/31 is both a character sketch and a social drama (and in that aspect it raises questions rather than delivers a message). The film begins strong and then fades, as other reviewers have noted. I put that mostly down to the script as the acting and directing are solid-to-excellent throughout. (Love how the sound mix captures the buzz of city life.) Would recommend to lovers of film, those able to have any kind of pathos for an arrogant addict, or those interested in looking at things from a psychological/social standpoint. Others are likely to find Oslo, 8/31 emotionally unsatisfying.
The film's visual minimalism provides the peace and serenity its troubled protagonist so desperately desires.