Oslo, August 31

A- drama

  • Written by Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier
  • Directed by Joachim Trier

Early in Oslo, August 31, a young man leaves the home of a beautiful woman he has just slept with, and attempts suicide. We know this is not going to be a happy picture.

The young man is Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), a former journalist and recovering drug addict, living in a clinic in the country. It’s nearing time for him to face the real world.

That real world is the big city, Oslo. With a one-day pass, Anders goes to town for a job interview with a magazine. He’ll also be able to visit his sister.

He first visits a friend, now stable, married, and raising a daughter. The friend attempts to give Anders advice and encouragement, but Anders rejects it.

Nothing is easy for this man except for picking up women–he’s always had a knack for that.  But even there, he’s lost his old enthusiasm.

Sex is just a piece of the problem. Anders has no idea how to reconnect with the outside world in a safe way. To make matters worse, he feels threatened by constant temptation.

Over the course of the day and night, his story moves from difficult but hopeful to harrowing and depressing. Filmmaker Joachim Trier gives us no reason to believe that Anders will successfully resist drink and drugs, but gives us plenty of reasons to care whether he does or not.

The picture  takes us on a journey into Anders’ world and, even scarier, his mind. It’s one thing to read about drug addiction. Oslo, August 31makes you feel the strain of wavering between a difficult recovery and a lifelong disaster.

I saw Oslo, August 31 at the 2012 San Francisco International Film Festival.