About five months ago, I wrote a post about a movie called Reprise. This film hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved it a lot because I could relate to it so much. The problems that I had with it and that other reviewers had with it were washed away as just quirks of the movie. These quirks included the smugness of the characters, the intentional need to reference obscure works of art, and paper thin portrayal of the woman in the main character’s life. These quirks were reigned in and didn’t hide the truth behind the plot. So when I saw that the same director decided to work with one of the main actors again, I thought that the film would be another hit with me. I need to stop assuming things, because it only ends up making an ass out of you and me. (I love that joke…)
Oslo, August 31st is about a man who gets leave for a day from a rehab center in order to interview for a job. He uses this time to visit old friends and wander around Oslo. But he is a moody drug addict who has seemed to strain every relationship he has ever had. Thus is the nature of severe drug addicts. But something sets this boy apart from the other drug addicts in the rehab center he attends. He comes from a privileged family and believes that he is smart. He has this air of smugness that was endearing in Reprise but now grates on my nerves in this film. For instance he has a long talk with one of his old friends in a park. This friend is a very big intellectual who loves to say how smart he is. He is trying to cheer our protagonist up by telling him how well he can blend into normal society once he leaves rehab. He says that this man is smart. That he is so far above any other person in the center he is at. The protagonist agrees with him in a way that it seems like a given fact. But despite his inherent intellectual prowess, he is still in the same situation as those dummies. I am usually not one to shit all over characters that have intellectual leanings. In fact I think that more characters should have that as some aspect of their personality. But when a character does not show how intellectual he is but merely has conversations about it, I want to reach into the screen and punch him in the face.
This film was the most unrealistic pretending to be realistic film I have seen in a while. Everything about the main character screams contrivance. From the all black clothing he wears to the friends he keeps to the things he does all show the hand of a poorly written screenplay. His friends are just there to make him feel bad. His interview was just an excuse for him to loose it. His late night tryst with a hot woman (who is totally not a studying to be a nutritionist) is just an excuse for him to realize he will never be happy. The man didn’t feel real from the start so he drags down everything around him.
I am sitting here writing this review and I realize that I didn’t hate everything about this film. There were moments I actually really liked. For instance at one point in the movie, the main character is sitting at some cafeteria type restaurant. He sits there and listens to other conversations going on around him. The people around him get into lively debates, reveal their hopes and dreams or just talk about what they did that day. But the conversations seemed so real and so much what you would hear in a public place that I wished the whole film was just him sitting at this restaurant. If only.