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Film / Oslo, August 31st

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Oslo, August 31st (Oslo, 31. august) is a 2011 Norwegian drama film directed by Joachim Trier. It tells the story of a young man, Anders, a recovering drug addict at an Oslo rehab center who is allowed to take an overnight trip to the city in order to attend a job interview, though Anders has few plans to make the most out of his free time.

Bleak and hopeless in tone, the film nevertheless received rave reviews from critics, with praise especially focused on the performance of lead actor Anders Danielsen Lie.


This film provides examples of:

  • Alone in a Crowd: Anders is extremely lonely and disconnected from the people around him, leading him to appear isolated when he's with others; when he does try to break into a conversation, it usually ends up awkward or uncomfortable.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Averted. Anders assumes that his friend Thomas is fulfilled because of his family, but Thomas admits that his obligations have left him exhausted and unable to pursue his interests. Later, Mirjam underlines this by admitting that she finds it hard to connect with her old friends who have children and believes they have compromised their identity in order to be mothers.
  • Black Sheep: Anders has a troubled relationship with his family: his parents had to sell his childhood home in order to pay for his rehab (though there is insistence they were planning to downsize anyway), which he feels guilty for in the end. His sister, who he wants to see, won't even speak to him.
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  • Crapsack World: All of Anders's encounters when reconnecting with old friends prove to him that life is bleak, depressing, and disappointing. By the time he meets a couple of younger women who are free-spirited and happy, he is too disconnected to bond with them properly.
  • Descent into Addiction: Played with. Anders is in rehab and has gotten clean, but quickly relapses the moment he is given the opportunity to by drinking at a party. By the end, he feels that life is so hopeless and pointless that he's shooting up again.
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with Anders attempting suicide in a river. The tone doesn't get much lighter.
  • Downer Ending: Anders returns to his childhood home (which has been sold to pay for his rehab) and calls up his ex to take back all his vulnerability he admitted about their relationship before shooting up in his old bedroom, leaving it unknown if he survives.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The film takes place over the course of a single day — though that day is actually August 30th, and ends on the 31st.
  • The Ghost:
    • Anders is eager to see his sister, Nina, and much of the film is centered on his anticipating of their meeting. However, she fails to show up, and her girlfriend admits that she doesn't want to see him and doesn't think he should leave rehab.
    • Iselin, Anders's ex who he still has feelings for, is brought up frequently but is never seen or heard from.
  • May–December Romance: Mirjam admits how hard it is to see male friends only date female students or girls fresh out of college, making her feel unwanted as a woman in her mid-thirties. Anders and a friend also pick up a couple of young students at a bar.
  • The One That Got Away: Anders's ex, Iselin, who he dated in the throes of his addiction. He claims to Thomas to have never truly loved her, but he repeatedly leaves her desperate voicemails in an attempt to reconnect and is shown to be troubled by their breakup. Ultimately, he disconnects entirely and leaves her a final voicemail telling her to forget everything he said.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The entire film is this.
    • Before his interview, Anders meets an old friend who encourages him to start fresh and get himself involved with life again. Anders refutes this, stating that because he is in his mid-thirties, it is too late for him to start over again, and he doesn't even have any desire to.
    • The job interview goes poorly when Anders awkwardly admits he was an addict, and though the interviewer attempts to help him recover his chances, he steadfastly refuses and leaves.
    • He tries to meet with his sister he has often talked about reuniting with, only to learn that she refuses to see him.
    • He attends a party with some old friends and quickly breaks his sobriety, awkwardly kisses a friend (who is in a relationship) he was enjoying a connection with, and is then caught stealing money from the coat room and has to leave.
    • He goes to a bar and meets some younger women, but he fails to connect with them and remains isolated and detached from their fun.
    • Over the course of the film, he has attempted to get a call back from an ex, but later calls her back and tells her to forget all of the vulnerable, sensitive voice mails he left her.
    • Finally, he returns to his childhood home and shoots up, and it is left ambiguous as to whether he dies.