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Oslo, August 31st 2011

A quiet, beautifully understated film about Anders, a 34-year-old Norwegian ex-addict who is clean, but not yet sober, and fighting a pitched battle with despair.

Anders thinks himself not merely a social outcast, but someone who is doubly handicapped because he feels entirely out of phase with the world around him. The years of his life he's had stolen by drug addiction, recovery and relapse have left him entirely out of sync with his friends and family. Worse yet, he is finding it very difficult to look past his missing years and personal losses, or muster enough hope to believe that others may yet believe in him.

Although this film is a heartache, I don't believe it is, ultimately, depressing. Someone watching this film with self-awareness may come to learn that, most of the time, despair is merely surrendering to the worst lies we tell ourselves about who we are, what we've done, and what we are capable of.

And, if they are lies... why would we believe them?

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"Oslo, August 31st" is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen. Director Joachim Trier and actor Anders Danielsen Lie, working together for the second time, understand something fundamental about their character. He believes the ship has sailed without him. He screwed up. He lost years in addiction and recovery. Life has moved on. His old friends like Thomas have stayed on board the ship, and Anders feels adrift. Even the much-loved city that surrounds him is an affront, a reminder of the days not lived, the experiences missed. How can he begin again? Above all, Anders is angry with himself and in despair, although he's so inward as he tries to conceal that.

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Joachim Trier manages to capture a hauntingly real, melancholic look at a day in the life of an addict. It's a superb film. Echoes of' Lilyah-4-ever' and 'Heaven knows what'. The hopelessness of Anders' character flaws are really conveyed brilliantly by Trier. It's fairly bleak but has real staying power.

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seen this film yesterday, real good.

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