Film Review: Oslo August 31st (2011)

on Sunday, December 02, 2012
'Oslo August 31st' (2011) [Nordic Film Festival 2012] // Words: Saam Das

Premiering in the UK at the 2011 London Film Festival and garnering a UK cinemas run shortly after, Norwegian observational drama 'Oslo August 31st' returns to the UK for a one-off screening at London's inaugural Nordic Film Festival. Often beautifully shot but its melancholia ultimately feels unfulfilling.

Recovering drug addict Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) leaves rehab on day release for a job interview, in the city. He takes advantage of his brief freedom to visit old friends and family members, reflecting on his mistakes and attempting to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, the source of the despair that led him down his drug-fuelled path.

Director Joachim Trier's film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes, and was one of last year's most critically acclaimed offerings. (Currently standing at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.) Visually, 'Oslo August 31st' quietly impresses, yet the film feels somewhat unfulfilling, and prohibitively meandering and melancholic.

The film's finale takes Anders, and the viewer, deeper into depression. In the case of Anders, at least, perhaps into unrecoverable depression. 'Oslo August 31st' may force us to consider and appreciate moments in everyday life but it does so in a painfully detached manner.


'Oslo August 31st' is screening at 20.45 tonight at the Riverside Studios. The London Nordic Film Festival continues till December 5th.

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