LFF#2 Oslo, 31st August (2011)
The phrase ‘Norwegian cinema’ and ‘knock-about comedy’ doesn’t immediately strike one as synonymous with each other, and its an ideal that’s not about to be challenged by Joachim Trier’s second feature Oslo 31 August, unless you find the suicidal impulses of a depressed thirtysomething to be particularly mirthsome. Screening as part of the festivals Cinema Europa strand and following on the heels of his widely admired debut Reprise, director Joachim Trier has produced another internalized character driven drama with an aura of New Wave spontaneity, with an assured central performance from Anders Borchgrevink as Anders, a wounded and insightful young man who stands on the precipice of destruction.
A day in the life of a junkie, permitted a 24 hour pass from rehab in order to attend a job interview may not sound immediately appealing but this is not the expected trawl through the wrong side of town, through decrepit crack houses and warming one hands by a blazing barrel fire under a bridge on a patch of urban wasteland , Oslo is actually more of a gentle drama as Anders visits some friends, tries to connect with an ex-girlfriend who is abroad, goes clubbing and finally finds himself back in his family home. It’s a shrewdly written piece with a terrific eye for contemporary mores, the job interview alone is a terrific scene as comedy cultural observation (‘All these style magazines have an article on the post-modern appreciation of every HBO series these days’) moves to tragedy when his career gaps are queried and he has to come clean. Similarly a visit to an old party fiend whom is settled down with babies and a mortgage is also astutely delivered, as Ander’s confesses that he thinks ‘normal people are boring’ to which his friend confides that even an appearance of domestic bliss can mask some spiritual malaise, although the conventional route of societal expectations is mostly agreeable. It’s realistic, its universal, and deftly played through a discreet and direct shooting style.Yet there are some more cinematic moments, my favourite being a lightly transcendent predawn bike ride with fire extinguishers bellowing mist into a hovering sky, as the film moves toward its inevitable culmination Oslo achieves a simple grace with a mournful final montage, suggesting that an indifferent, silent world cares little for our individual agonies as life inexorably moves on. If you’re in the mood for something forlorn in the best sense of the word then Oslo is recommended.
My second off-site review is
here (pulled due to a press embargo) which I’m sorry to say was not the finest piece of British cinema ever, however next Monday’s press schedule is much more appetising with the likes of a Sundance smash, China’s most successful film ever, and McNulty stalking the smoky streets of 1920′s London. I’ve also divined an interesting Halloween post courtesy of an amusing triple bill I’ve spotted at the NFT, we’re talking old school horror my friend (cackles manically, distant lighting flash)….speaking of horrific material I’ve also got preview tickets booked for an early screening of The Thing remake, quite why this is taking until late November to come out here after a Halloween opening in the States seems strange, but before all that we have Melancholia which opens this weekend…