A gripping, stylish film from Joachim Trier revolving around 24 hours in the life of Anders, a recovering drug addict who has been given special leave from the rehabilitation centre for a job interview in the city of Oslo. On his day out, he re-visits old friends who he knew before he went into rehab and whose prejudices towards him still exist.
Instead of the more cinematic favoured roadtrip, this is more of a walking tour of Oslo, as we follow Anders as he meets Thomas - an old friend who used to party with him, in his family abode with wife and two children - where they have an extensive discussion of life and remaining ambitions and Battlefied on Playstation. As he meets more friends, we see him attempt to resist the urge and temptation to fall off the wagon.
His job interview is virtually a non-existing part of the plot and the least memorable dialogue scene, as Anders own prejudice to being a junkie haunts him.
Throughout the film, there is a wonderful use of sound as a marker of place and goings-on; the scene where Anders just sits in a cafe listening and ear-wigging to other patrons conversations is exhiliarating and technically marvellous, it harks back to the credit sequence of invisible narrators talking about memories of Oslo.
Anders Danielsen Lie, plays Anders, and is a leading performance of sheer naturalism - part rebel, part loner - a whirling dervish of nauseas and trauma. We make quite a connection with Anders, who insistently states he does not want pity, which is all the more remarkable considering his shocking final act of the film that leaves you feeling both reflective and angry.
The Scandanavian way of film-making seems to be a permanent model of restraint and purpose, Trier (in his second feature following Reprise) here is quite deliberate in his direction allowing the character of Anders to be both leader and navigator; giving him the responsibility to lead the narrative and not let events force their hand. This keeping of the cards close to his chest is methodial and the lead performance is ptiched perfectly for this outcome.
Another clever stroke is Trier framing Anders in doorways and archways - an attempt to contain him yet also heighten his isolation from society as a lone figure and individual, tellingly the last shocking act of Anders is done in long shot as we look on from the end of a corridor through a doorway, a voyeuristic viewing for us and considering we have been so up close and personal throughout why are refused one last look?
However, this is a professional polished film shot superbly and with an excellent soundtrack reflecting the isolated youth of Norway - that was so shockingly exposed and disturbed for real in August of this year.
Oslo, August 31st will be distributed by Soda Pictures on November 11th nationwide.