director Joachim Trier
I found myself once again in this weird, unpleasant situation. I put the DVD into the machine (the DVD that I queued up and ordered from Netflix). The movie starts, then slowly or quickly or somehow, I start to wonder “why did I rent this movie?” It’s not a question that you want to find yourself pondering while watching something. It sort of calls into question what you are doing with your life? I could have been reading, socializing. I could have been watching something more interesting, more important, more meaningful. Why did I rent a movie about a recovering Norwegian heroin addict, who is having a bummer of a day after getting released from treatment? Why did that interest me? What sounded “good” about it? Who am I to think that this was a good idea?
Luckily, it’s only me paying for this minor mistake.
Oslo, August 31 actually got good reviews. I’m always on the lookout for films that sound good or interesting. I put them in my queue, knowing that I probably won’t see them in the cinema. When they get released on DVD, they pop into the bottom of my Netflix queue, and often, with new releases, I move them to the top. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they malinger. Sometimes I delete them.
This is a downer of a movie about a heroin addict, facing Oslo, facing reality, facing a world he doesn’t believe in. We don’t know all that much about him. He’s ruined his parents finances so they had to sell their home. His sister doesn’t want to see him face to face. The girl that he may or may not be in love with him won’t take his phone calls.
The guy who plays him, Anders Danielsen Lie, isn’t a bad actor necessarily. But he’s not a compelling one. This is the kind of film that Gus Van Sant could make and even if it was still a major bummer, he would cast a beautiful young person and he could evoke his world’s surreal reality and tragedy in some magical, relatable way. Director Joachim Trier tries. And fails.
The earlier into a film that I find myself wondering why I chose to watch it is a sign of my own impending misery, albeit temporary. And maybe it is as it should be that it makes me question my own life.