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Isn’t life fun when you are in rehab and try to fix all the broken things that you have left behind? No, it’s not. It is depressing, because you realise that some bridges are burned forever, some parts of your life are desolate beyond repair, you have wasted years using drugs or trying to come up with the money to use drugs, and (maybe most dramatically) you have lost the faith in other people’s trust and affection. The turning point in Joachim Trier’s “Oslo, 31. August” comes when Anders (our “hero”) goes to a job interview, and during the interview the fact of his addiction comes up. Stunningly, it is not the interviewer who turns the atmosphere in room, it is Anders himself, embarrassed and suspicious about the counterpart’s motives, he shuts down, gives up and runs away. He is less able to deal with his history than many people around him are.

Upon roaming the streets during his day off from the clinic, he is trying to reattach himself to the social life and reality of his city. It is a harrowing effort, and a futile one. He does not have many skills for dealing with solitude, fear and worries. He is tempted by the tools he used to know from earlier, alcohol and other drugs, and he is struggling an uphill battle against caving in again.

It is certainly an actors’ triumph that this film is not terribly boring and depressing. Well, depressing it is (what is it with these Northern Europeans, honestly… cheer up!), but because Anders Danielsen Lie does not play his part in a melodramatic way, I felt in good care, it seemed an honest performance. Honest to the point that all the options he appears to have or not have I understood. Seeing how the story develops, that means some unpleasant reflections about one’s own choices in Anders’ situation.


  1. A haunting experience, this one stayed with me for a long time afterwards. For me, the first person angle makes us feel very close to the troubles of the main character, and I agree we reflect on our own life while watching. Interesting how even though he finds it easy to pick up girls, he is lost.
    I also watched the film it was based on, The Fire Within (1963), which is even darker, yet I think equally as good.

  2. I did not know it was based on an older film, seems I have another candidate for my next moments of feeling excessively positive and optimistic 🙂

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