Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier, 2011, Norway/Denmark/Sweden)

Oslo, August 31 is director Joachim Trier's second collaboration with actor Anders Danielsen Lie, and his second film in the informal "Oslo Trilogy" - preceded by Reprise, and succeeded by The Worst Person in the WorldOslo is a remarkably quieter film than Worst Person, and much grimmer. That's not to say that it can't be identified as a Trier film. Notably, both films pay great tribute to the city of Oslo. At the beginning of Oslo, there is a montage of archival footage of the city, with various people telling their first memories and experiences of the city. This sets the tone for a film that is anchored in a very specific place and cultural milieu.

Like Worst PersonOslo is a film about a crisis of indecision. In this case, where are following a man in his early 30s - Anders. Anders is a recovering drug addict, and at the beginning of the film, he tries to drown himself in a lake but fails. The next 24 hours, which the film documents, show Anders attempting to choose between life and death. While this premise sounds like it should be melodramatic, Trier is remarkably even-handed. The film does not glamorize Anders' addiction, and his addiction is almost incidental to the overall plot - a plot that is more about an existential crisis, and the desire to find meaningful relationships. Throughout the film, we see several potential outcomes for Anders through the various people he is encountering, and we wonder what he will ultimately choose. There are also some partners that he could become involved with. The film's haunting final montage shows many places where Anders spent time on his last day. We see that despite his decisions, life has moved on without him. A profound and moving work.


9/10

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