Oslo, August 31st

Oslo, August 31st

DVD - 2012 | Norwegian
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Anders will soon complete his drug rehabilitation in the countryside. As part of the program, he is allowed to go into the city for a job interview. But he takes advantage of the leave and stays in the city, drifting around, meeting people he hasn't seen in a long while. Anders is smart, handsome, and from a good family, but he is deeply haunted by all the opportunities he has wasted and all the people he has let down.

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SmartAssAWhip
Dec 20, 2013

Flourishes of dialogue, interspersed with moments of the protagonist's quiet self-reflection allow the viewer to easily supplant themselves in the lead role if their own personal life choices led them to such an existance. Fine work by a director not afraid to produce subtle cinematic nuance.

a
alpaca85
Nov 24, 2013

I'm not quite sure what I expected when I got Oslo, August 31st , but what I got really made my day. This is a very simple film, as it takes place over an entire day in Oslo, Norway. It starts out with the main character, Anders, attempting suicide in a lake. It doesn't work, and he leaves shortly after for Oslo. Anders is almost done a large stint in rehab for drug use, and he's travelling to the big city in order to complete a job interview.

But that isn't really what this movie is about. There is a lot of silent glances, and a lot of quiet contemplation. This is not a film of substance, as the bare plot is simply a vessel for scenes of Anders wandering around Oslo, reconnecting with old friends and thinking. If that sounds boring, that's because it can be. But in the sense of movies like Before Sunrise/Sunset and Revanche , it never gets tiring. There is something wonderful about the kind of the movie that not only makes you think, but is also a movie about people thinking.

Oslo, August 31st serves itself in two ways. For one, it's a character piece about Anders. He is the main character, and despite the little we know about him, it's easy to sympathize. Anders Danielsen Lie is wonderful in the title role, and in every scene just watching what's going on in his eyes is worth a star. He manages to underplay a character that could have easily gone over the top, and in so relates a mood that would have never been conveyed had it not been for him. He's excellent.

The second layer of Oslo, August 31st is the city of Oslo itself. I've never been there, nor do I know anything about it, but in the opening ten minutes, we are treated (through voiceover) to a host of people talking about all their memories that revolve around Oslo. People talk about the traffic, the smaller streets, the skyscrapers and a building downtown that was demolished. It gives a real sense of place without having actually been there. Similarly, when Anders first sees Oslo on the road, the music swells as if something spectacular has just happened.

While I didn't notice it during the movie, I found out during the credits that this was adapted off of the French novel Le Feu Follet . While I haven't read the novel, I did see the 1963 Louis Malle film based off of it. That film was set in 60's Paris, and featured Maurice Ronet as a suicidal alcoholic. It's fun to compare the films because tonally they are wildly different. Oslo, August 31st is more of a slow moving character study, while Le Feu Follet is more of a brash, experimentally dark mood piece.

Both films have a similar foundation, but in Joachim Trier's film he chooses to not overplay with camera tricks or flashy editing, crafting a much simpler and bare bones-style movie. He makes it dark, but never as dark as Le Feu Follet . Malle makes a much more stylish movie, but it’s a little darker as well, and Ronet’s performance is a lot more depressing. That’s not to say that Oslo, August 31st isn’t awesome, which it is in a way. They’re just two different, albeit both excellent films.

Oslo, August 31st is Joachim Trier’s sophomore film, and he delivers a story that could easily seem boring, but is instead feels rich and exciting. At times, his bare style seems ripped out of the Steve McQueen handbook, but it is indeed, entirely his own. I look forwards to watching his next film. This isn’t the easiest film to watch, but it is immensely underrated. Definitely worth a shot.

v
velowallah
Oct 28, 2013

Very bleak psychological movie. The film would have been stronger if the reasons for the deep despair and detachment of the main character had been explored at least a bit.

r
Ron@Ottawa
Apr 30, 2013

This is a drama about the personal struggle of a hardcore drug addict. Acting is good and the story is told well. However, somehow I do not feel sympathy for the mail character as he spiralled downward toward self-destruction. Much was not explained - e.g. how did an intelligent young man get to a stage of having lost all hope? Subtitles.

m
ms_mustard
Mar 23, 2013

well done film of a lost soul unable to maintain his rehabilitation.

j
jimg2000
Feb 04, 2013

Not for entertainment for sure but deserves a watch on the perils of drug addicts on the slippery slope to rehabilitate despite of having the best support environment.

Glencoe_Mike Jan 24, 2013

Excellent, real feeling film and a bit of a downer.

m
mjayh
Oct 28, 2012

This is not entertainment. It's a very good, insightful film that rings absolutely true.

z
zal1
Oct 18, 2012

Despite a grim ending, this is one of the best films I've seen this year!

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Ron@Ottawa
Apr 30, 2013

Other: A brief scene of heroin injection at the end.

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