Review: Oslo, August 31st (2011)


Oslo, August 31st (2011)

Directed by: Joachim Trier | 95 minutes | drama | Actors: Anders Danielsen Lie, Anders Borchgrevink, Andreas Braaten, Hans Olav Brenner, Malin Crépin, Petter Width Kristiansen, Johanne Kjellevik Ledang, Emil Lund, Tone Beate Mostraum, Ingrid Olava, Renate Reinsve, Øystein Røger, Kjærsti Odden Skjeldal,, Iselin Aksel Thanke, Petter With

‘Oslo, August 31st’ is an honest and poetic drama by director Joachim Trier based on the book “Le Feu Follet” by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (1893-1945). Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) is treated in rehab for his drug addiction. As part of his rehabilitation, he is allowed to leave the clinic for the first time and is given a day’s job leave.

If during the job interview it appears that he has a ‘hole’ in his employment history, the employer asks further and Anders is forced to reveal that he has been an addict, but has now completely kicked the habit. However, the conversation immediately ends, his past haunts and confronts him and prevents him from making a new start unhindered. Anders also uses the day to visit old friends and constantly tries to call his former girlfriend. That has no success, he can only leave a message on her voicemail. She does not respond at all to his increasingly urgent calls.

When he visits old friends, they are surprised at his unexpected arrival. Has he really kicked the habit and how stable is his situation? In conversations he has with them, we learn more and more about Anders’s past, but Anders himself is also presented with a mirror about how the outside world views him. That becomes even more intrusive when he overhears a conversation. That picture is not very rosy due to his behavior and many derailments in the past. After he’s invited to a party, those confrontations become increasingly intrusive and Anders’ mood darkens.

Anders Danielsen Lie convincingly portrays the position of the ex-junk who has to find a place in society again and who encounters many threats in his way. The story, on the other hand, unfolds relatively slowly (and also somewhat predictably) and lacks some action and depth. It is not easy than to keep the viewer’s attention for 100%.

On the other hand, the atmosphere is catchy, given the gloomy colored subject. Anders is constantly threatening to slip away again. Especially the atmosphere and the strong camerawork with many close ups are decisive. It is, of course, no surprise that Anders’s experiences of that day are drawn into a negative spiral of drinking that leads to a gloomy mental state. Can he himself resist that threat and escape the spiritual malaise? We will know the outcome in the strong and powerfully portrayed final scenes.

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