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Monday, November 25, 2013

OSLO, 31. AUGUST / OSLO, AUGUST 31st (2011)

From Norway, Joachim Trier’s low-key downer uses DOGMA’s barebones filmmaking style to track a day in the life of a suicidal 30-something as he leaves his anti-addiction clinic for a job interview in Oslo, along with a series of ad-hoc reunions with past friends. Brutally honest without being in any way revelatory, the film degenerates from situations to set-ups, with one encounter after another used as an excuse to trigger escalating negative reactions. It comes off as too impressed with itself, pleading for attention that ought to be reserved for its fast-falling protagonist, a still young man with too many chips on his shoulder. Hard to see how someone in such fragile condition got approved for a day pass in the first place, but the film is as determinist as a Calvinist after a missed train connection. On the positive side, credit Trier with not making too much of a meal out of every step down the rung: the first drink, some swiped cash, finding an old drug supplier, all handled as casually as grabbing the bus on a familiar route.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The downbeat cast of Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Hubbert & Gabriel Byrne all signed on for Trier’s English-language debut, but the film was scuttled when investors got cold feet. Maybe the shock of disappointment will cause Trier to lighten up.

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