‘Oslo, August 31st’ an honest, bleak, and emotional character study
Oslo, August 31st
Directed by Joachim Trier
Written by Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
The awkwardness and pain a person can feel from forever being an outsider reverberates strongly in Oslo, August 31st, a Norwegian film that earns its dark emotions by never being excessively melodramatic. Director and co-writer Joachim Trier paints a bleak and honest portrait of a man who’s closer to a ghost than a living, breathing human, unsure of how to connect despite desperately reaching out to relate to anyone. Star Anders Danielsen Lie is able to get across a vast amount of emotions more with body language and facial expressions than with dialogue, centered around his character’s wounded history.
Lie plays Anders, a recovering drug addict preparing for a job interview in Oslo that may help him turn his life around. Anders ostensibly wants to rejoin the modern world, after being nearly a year sober thanks to intensive rehab. But he’s still in great pain, as we see in the opening minutes when he attempts (and fails) to commit suicide by drowning in a lake. Anders has friends he tries to reconnect with, yet he’s never truly able to articulate the hurt that radiates within him. Lie does an excellent job of portraying someone forced to go through the motions of acting normal. Throughout Oslo, August 31st, Anders pretends to be normal, swaying people to believe he’s changed from his addictive ways and that it’s made him a better, happier person; he doesn’t fully buy his transformation, so no one else can.