Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier, 2011)
I adored Joachim Trier’s last film Reprise, a brilliant, understated drama about an academic rivalry between a pair of close friends in Oslo. His follow-up, Oslo, August 31st, is an equally impressive effort, again about some of the difficulties of educated, middle-class living.
Like Reprise, Trier’s new film stars Anders Danielsen Lie. Lie gives an astonishing performance as a recovering heroin addict, who has been in rehab for nearly a year. The film opens with him attempting suicide, before being allowed out into Oslo for a job interview. He takes the opportunity to see friends and family members.
The film is almost unbearably tense: we know he’s in terrible shape, yet his counsellors, friends and family don’t. We know his life is potentially at risk, and that he isn’t free of the demons that led to his addiction. We know that August 31st, in Oslo, is the day that will define his life.