Have you ever noticed how foreign films are authentic without exception? There are no turnarounds, no sort-ofs – they are all honest to the core.1 I’m not sure if this is due to the look of people – they look like people around you, friends or people you’d bump into on the street – or if it’s the fact that I don’t live in the US but it’s something and it might not even be tangible. But the streets they walk and the ambient sounds feel familiar, as if I’d been there and lived it, seen Anders roam these streets.
Oslo, 31. August was one of the most poignant, honest and storyteller films I’ve seen. There is a sense of inevitability from the first scene and it drags you with it, making the survival of these characters the most important thing that will happen on that day. It’s intimate in its core, laced with the loud quiet of a trapped mind. It breafly flickers hope between the devastating moments, the light joking making the story even crueller. It feels wrong to smile at the clever remarks, it feels grotesque, but I think that’s also what they were attempting.
In a way, many things happen over the course of a day – yet it’s not much. The pacing is admirable, going over everything while staying true to the mood. It’s observant, too: the film feels distant even in its intimacy, providing closure and sadness both, often at the same time. Yet it never becomes overwhelming. It’s quite literally watching a person crumble into little pieces from bigger pieces, surrounded by people with dreams and hopes and feeling suffocated by the mere idea of it. It’s sad in its essence and it’s transmitted impeccably. For me, the key part in this was Andres Danielsen Lee’s acting, never wavering or unsure. It’s an amazing film, portraying a life consumed by poison – in Anders’s case, it’s drugs, but it really could be anything. It reflects everything he does or says or even thinks. It always comes back to his addiction and the hopelessness it fashions.
1 most of which I’ve seen are depressing as well, but that might merely be my sadistic choice of films.
Sidenote: I don’t know if this is the best film to start off my Norwegian experience with (I’ll be living there for a year starting… uh, August… holy crap) but I really wanted to see something in Norwegian. Well, at least I know they make good films. If you guys have any Norwegian film suggestions (besides Kon-Tiki), let me know in the comments!