Sunday, December 30, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Oslo, August 31 (2012) ***½

NR, 95 min.
Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle (novel “Le feu follet”)
Starring: Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava, Malin Crépin, Emil Lund, Kjærsti Odden Skjeldal, Øystein Røger, Renate Reisve

“Oslo, August 31” doesn’t really have as much to do with the city as it does with a troubled man and his addiction. I’m not even sure his addiction is so much his problem as it is a symptom of it. I suppose that’s the case with many addicts. The movie follows this man on a day leave from an intensive rehabilitation facility. He begins his day by filling his coat pockets with rocks and walking into a lake. Not a good sign for his progress.

He’s obtained his leave because he has a job interview. With two weeks left in his program, this might seem like an ambitious start to a new life. He doesn’t see it that way. He’s one of those guys who have trouble seeing the positive in things, and a visit to an old friend before the interview doesn’t help him in a more positive direction.

The movie begins with an homage of sorts to the Norwegian capital city. The director cuts together images from the public transportation system traveling around the city with voiceovers from citizens claiming their reasons to love their city. I’m not sure what this has to do with the protagonist’s story. Perhaps, it represents a contrast to his own existence in the city. Perhaps, it represents the only thing that keeps him going.

Whatever the reasons, the film is a stark look at a day in the life of an addict. It shows us how nobody important to him understands his addiction. It shows how his social environment is indifferent to it. And it shows that there are much deeper problems under the surface of the addiction that even the addict doesn’t understand. It isn’t a fun film, but it is a good one.

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