Director: Joachim Trier
Starring: Anders Danielsen Lie
Duration: 95 min.
One day in the life of Anders, a young recovering drug addict, who takes a brief leave from his treatment center to interview for a job and catch up with old friends in Oslo.
Oslo, 31. August is a film directed by Joachim Trier, based on the 1931 novel Le feu follet by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Following in the large footsteps of Louis Malle, who first adapted the novel in 1963's masterful The Fire Within. Trier puts a modern spin on this haunting existential story and relocates it from the bustling City of Light to Norway's cold capital; and though this adaptation doesn't quite match up to the searing intensity of the former, he does succeed in carving out a unique and delicate telling.
We follow a day in the life of Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), a gloomy 34 year-old drug addict with a day pass from his rehab center. He heads to the city, visits some old friends, attends a job interview, and tries to connect with an old flame now living in New York; all the while desperately searching for a reason to go on living.
Danielsen Lie delivers a brilliant natural performance, one that keeps us entirely captivated as he proceeds from one location to the next, even though his character is the type of guy that most of us wouldn't want to spend nine minutes with, let alone ninety.
Trier's graceful camera constantly shadows his central character with intimate closeups, which also manages to give us a wonderful tour of Oslo along the way, and its natural beauty perfectly accompanies the bleak character study almost making me forget about comparisons to the original. He also displays a talent for injecting some incredible light and lively moments into the austere narrative that ultimately make Anders' unshakeable loneliness all the more devastating.
A wonderfully acted and directed, tender and quiet portrait of a tortured soul. Oslo, 31. August is not an easy watch, but it is an impressive adaptation that stands squarely on its own. My only disappointment is the soundtrack lacks anything remotely as heart-rending as Erik Satie's Gymnopédies.
— Bonjour Tristesse