You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oslo, August 31st

A confident and beautifully crafted second film from Norwegian helmer Joachim Trier.

With: Anders Danielsen Lie, Malin Crepin, Aksel M. Thanke, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava, Oystein Roger, Tone B. Mostraum, Kjaersti Odden Skjeldal.

While relative Lars tackles the end of the world in “Melancholia,” distant cousin Joachim Trier — yes, sans the von — opts for an intimate portrait of the end of the world of just one thirtysomething in “Oslo, August 31st.” Like Norwegian helmer’s earlier “Reprise,” this confident and beautifully crafted second film adds a contempo finish and pays homage to the French New Wave, adapting the suicide-themed novel that also inspired Louis Malle’s “The Fire Within.” Fest and Scandinavian auds will respond, but pic will require near-unanimous critical support for breakout play.

Anders Danielsen Lie (also from “Reprise”) plays Anders, a former promising writer from a well-off family, now almost finished with his drug rehab. After an unsuccessful morning of the Virginia Woolf variety, Anders travels to Oslo for a job interview at a magazine. Arriving early, he has time to visit some acquaintances, starting with his best friend, Thomas (Hans Olav Brenner), with whom he used to attend wild parties, but who’s a respected family man now.

After a lighthearted chat over breakfast that handsomely fills in their backstories, the two wander around an Oslo park in a minutes-long exchange that is the first of Trier’s major sequences and is executed to perfection. Their ambling but always precise conversation gives a good sense of how much the two know each other, care about each other and have drifted apart. Anders tells Thomas he feels like “a spoiled brat who fucked up,” before segueing, ever so subtly, to the true topic of the film: Anders’ thoughts of suicide.

After the job interview, which the agitated Anders doesn’t allow to go well, he takes a break for coffee at a bar in another virtuoso sequence: Through the use of shallow focus and an expertly constructed soundscape, Anders is seen listening in on the trivial conversations at other tables. As filtered through Anders’ senses, the snippets of talk, though not particularly depressing in and of themselves, seem so banal as to justify the idea of ending it all.

Like the original 1931 Pierre Drieu La Rochelle novel and Louis Malle’s 1963 adaptation, the film basically chronicles the last day or so in the life of a fatally frustrated and failed man in his early 30s. Seen in 2011, “Oslo” also feels like a younger “A Single Man” (the film, not the novel), with the catalyst of grief replaced by a combination of withdrawal symptoms and a more serious-minded quest to understand whether life is worth living.

As in most New Wave films, there’s a deceptive lightness to what happens during Anders’ day and how that action is presented, shot through with moments of melancholy; result makes for absolutely compelling viewing. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jump cut in a scene when Anders says goodbye to a wary Thomas further underlines how well the film has established itself as a 21st-century Norwegian equivalent of a New Wave feature.

Lie, in an intense yet seemingly effortless performance, essentially plays a continuation of the emotionally damaged twentysomething he essayed in “Reprise”; all others are bit roles, with Brenner the standout as Thomas. Many of the “Reprise” below-the-line team are back for seconds, including co-scripter Eskil Vogt, d.p. Jakob Ihre, editor Olivier Bugge Coutte and composer Ola Flottum; all deliver work in a similar vein as their earlier collaboration.

Though this second feature compresses rather than expands the multistrand, multiple-country universe of “Reprise,” the pic doesn’t feel smaller, just more intimate. The titular capital, bathed in an early-autumn light, is very much a character here.

Popular on Variety

Oslo, August 31st


Production: A Norsk Filmdistribusjon release of a Motlys, Don't Look Now presentation and production, in association with Storyline Studios, Norsk Filmdistribusjon, the Match Factory, NRK, SVT, DR. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne, Germany.) Produced by Hans-Jorgen Osnes, Yngve Saether, Sigve Endresen. Directed by Joachim Trier. Screenplay, Eskil Vogt, Trier, freely adapted from the novel "The Fire Within" by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle.

Crew: Camera (color), Jakob Ihre; editor, Olivier Bugge Coutte; music, Ola Flottum, Torgny Amdam; production designer, Jorgen Stangebye Larsen; art director, Solfrid Kjetsa; costume designer, Elle Daehli Ystehede; sound (Dolby Digital), Gisle Tveito; line producer, Therese Naustdal; assistant director, Hans-Jorgen Osnes, casting, Christian Rubeck, Emil Trier. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un certain regard), May 18, 2011. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Anders Danielsen Lie, Malin Crepin, Aksel M. Thanke, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava, Oystein Roger, Tone B. Mostraum, Kjaersti Odden Skjeldal.

More Film

  • Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd Jay Roach Bombshell

    Jay Roach on How 'Bombshell' Production Crew Re-Created Roger Ailes-Era Fox News

    “Bombshell” is a fast-moving exploration of the oppressive atmosphere at Fox News in 2016, when Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and eventually, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) brought down Roger Ailes. Considering more than 200 scenes were shot over 38 days, the film has an impressive runtime of 1:45. Director Jay Roach credits the work of his [...]

  • Little Women Movie

    Alexandre Desplat on Pushing the Boundaries With 'Little Women'

    The slate of awards hopefuls is new each year, but there is always a sense of continuity, of new contenders’ connections to the past. For example, Alexandre Desplat, a strong Golden Globes and Oscar possibility this year for his score to Sony’s “Little Women,” can trace the influence of his predecessors on his work. Growing [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker' Sequel Being Explored by Todd Phillips, Warner Bros.

    “Joker,” the $1 billion-grossing comic-book smash, may take another look at the fraying mind of Arthur Fleck. Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich has met with writer and director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver to explore possible ideas for a sequel to the drama about the early days of the Clown Prince of Crime. [...]

  • Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

    Mindy Kaling to Host 22nd Costume Designers Guild Awards

    Mindy Kaling announced Wednesday that she will host the 22nd Costume Designers Guild Awards. “I’m thrilled to be hosting the Costumes Designers Guild Awards. Costume design and fashion are close to my heart, and I promise many, possibly too many, outfit changes,” Kaling wrote on Instagram. View this post on Instagram Hey guys! I’m so [...]

  • FROZEN 2 - In Walt Disney

    Will 'Frozen 2' Heat Up a Frosty Box Office?

    How enduring is “Frozen” fever? Six years after audiences were first introduced to Princesses Anna and Elsa, Disney is returning to Arendelle this weekend with the big-screen debut of “Frozen 2. The original made history as the highest-grossing animated movie ever, raking in $1.2 billion worldwide in 2013. This time around, the powerful sisters are [...]

  • Nederland, Amsterdam, 09-10-2019-Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director

    IDFA Artistic Director Orwa Nyrabia on Documentary Cinema's Bright Future

    “Where do you want to start,” Orwa Nyrabia says, with a smile. “I’m in full festival mode!” Just a year into the job and Nyrabia, IDFA’s artistic director, can’t wait to get stuck into his second edition. The festival’s founder, Ally Derks, who bowed out in 2017 after 30 years at the helm, was a [...]

  • Timothee Chalamet poses for photographers at

    Timothée Chalamet to Make London Stage Debut With Eileen Atkins in '4000 Miles'

    Timothee Chalemet is set to take to the London stage for the first time, appearing next spring in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “4000 Miles.” Matthew Warchus will direct the production at The Old Vic, which will also star Eileen Atkins (“The Crown,” “Gosford Park”). The play opens April 2020. It turns on the story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content