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Review: Oslo, August 31

Surveying a failed life
By BRETT MICHEL  |  August 21, 2012
4.0 4.0 Stars

Thirty-four-year-old Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) considers himself "a spoiled brat who fucked up." Judging how acquaintances react to his unexpected presence during a day-long leave from a drug rehab center, he's also a bit of a ghost; a suicidal specter once blessed with promise, now he haunts his home of Oslo, surveying a failed life. Note that the opening montage of this second feature from Joachim Trier (Reprise) concludes with the controlled implosion of a building. "Remember what you once said," Anders later reminds an old pal," 'If someone wants to destroy himself, society should allow him to do so.' " Derived from Pierre Drieu La Rochelle's novel, Le feu follet (previously adapted by Louis Malle), the movie captures moments of lyrical beauty, from a bike ride through improvised clouds to the echoes of footfalls on stone. As the final shots mirror the first, you reflect on how life goes on, with and without us.

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