Get high all of the time, or get married, have kids, and become boring? Slippery slope, ain’t it?
We first meet Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) trying to drown himself in a lake, but why? Well, we begin to find out that he’s a drug addict that’s been going clean for some time now, however, has to go back to his hometown for a job opportunity that will put him back on the social map: Oslo. Anders has had quite a history there, as most of us have probably had with our hometowns, but what separates Anders from most of us is that everybody he ever knew, loved, or ever wanted to be close to him, he shoved away all for a needle in the arm, a couple of pills down his throat, and some funky nose-candy to get all up in his nostrils. Basically, he’s burned almost every bridge he’s ever had, but now that he’s clean and ready to enter back into society, will they accept him back in? Or, has the damage already been done to where there’s no coming back?
In other words: Life’s just not easy for a drug-addict. Recovering, or still struggling.
Everyone will leave you.
Sad, but very much a reality.
Drugs are not easy to kick, because even when you feel as if your mind has already told you “no“, something in your body tells you “yes“. But this isn’t a discussion about drug addiction, the repercussions, the signs, or an excerpt of my upcoming autobiography, it’s about this story of Anders, a guy who could be you or me, but just so happens to have a huge drug problem that he has yet to fully get over. You can see that bits and pieces of his brain want to keep on the straight and narrow, and not give into the smack, however, you also know that it’s less about his brain turning him onto the drugs, and more of the people he talks with in this one fateful day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the people surrounding Anders are the reason why he was a drugged-up fool at one point, but you can definitely tell that their interactions with him, as awkward or as pleasant as they may be, have some sort of effect on it. Anders goes around from person-to-person, tries to catch up with whoever will take his call and accept a meeting, and needless to say, nobody’s really all that hype to see him. Kind of sucks considering he’s spent all of this time in rehab trying to get back in the swing of things with regular, ordinary life, only to come back and totally get smacked by everybody in the face, but that’s the way life is most of the time, but most importantly: That’s how Anders’ life is, and it’s one that’s worth paying attention to.
Sure, the reasons for why he started his whole drug addiction back in the olden days are never fully explained, but it never feels like we need to know in order to get drawn to this story, or to this character more. We know that he was a drug addict, had a problem that he’s getting over, and is trying his downright hardest to get through it all in one piece, which I think is simple enough to make him a sympathetic character, if not a very troubled one, right? Well, that’s where this movie’s power really shows its face as not only do we start to feel bad for Anders as his story goes on, but also for the people he reconnects with.
For instance, the first and, in my mind, most memorable “catching up” session he has with anybody in this whole, entire film, happens in the first 20 minutes or so. It’s Anders’ old buddy who’s a bit pretentious, but who’s happy to see him. At the same time, however, the guy still doesn’t quite know how to still seem cool or tough since he has a wife and two kiddies now, and you can just tell that there’s something going on between these two. You don’t know if they hate each other and just want to start choking the other to death, or if they want to start clawing away each other’s clothes, and getting right down to it. Honestly, I know it sounds weird, but that’s what I was wondering throughout the whole conversation these two have, but what really got me was at the end of it when we are posed the question: “Who should we feel more bad for? The drug addict who has almost nothing left in his life, or the married-man with a wife, kids, respectable job, and no self-dignity present at all?”
Or leave you in the woods.
However, it’s not just that one character in particular that that question is brought up in this movie, it’s almost everybody that Anders meets, and/or catches back up with. All his old friends are either complete and total slobs, a-holes, or undeniably sad -whereas he is just somewhere in the middle. He has hope, and he knows that life will go on, but whether or not it will be with him alive or happy, is totally up in the air as for right now. Makes you wonder whether or not Anders is going to stick it straight through, man up, and beat the drug demon, or totally succumb to it all, realize that life isn’t worth living, and go down swinging, even if it is in a pool of your own throw-up.
And in case you haven’t been able to tell by all of the non-stop over-analyzing, Anders is such a great character to have a movie like this be centered around, as not only is he perfectly acted by Anders Danielsen Lie, but is given more dimensions than you could shake a stick out, and you wouldn’t even know. Everything we need to know about Anders is told to us throughout the conversations he has in this one day, and we get a clear picture of just who the type of person he was, and what he could be, if he decides to stick through life after all. However, we know that this guy has a bit of trouble going on in his mind, and it’s easy to see why he looks down upon most of the people he meets back up with, yet, at the same time, wants to be closer with.
He’s definitely not an easy character to read, except for the sad face he puts on plenty of times throughout the movie. But even then, you notice that there’s more thought and reasoning hiding underneath that sad face, and the interest will get to you, especially when you know a real life person just like Anders is out there, just waiting to be noticed, loved, and taken back in by the world he once knew. However, as we all know, that doesn’t usually happen and it’s a miserable fact to face.
Sad, but a reality.
Consensus: Maybe Oslo, August 31st isn’t required-viewing for somebody who’s just looking for a little pick-me-up after a crappy weekend, but it is still well worth the watch if you want a movie that challenges your perception on drug addiction, while also offering you plenty food for thought on the people that surround you in life, even when you’re at your lowest peak.
8.5 / 10
So you’ll then be forced to take rides with random strangers. End of story.
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire