Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    May 25, 2012
    88
    Despite its themes, Oslo, August 31st is an exhilarating film, with impeccable direction and pitch-perfect performances that make the bleakness worthwhile.
  2. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    May 24, 2012
    80
    Trier's voice and vision, are thrillingly unique. His ever-searching camera, which never stops moving, takes us into places we've never been, know too well and won't soon forget.
  3. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 22, 2012
    80
    Organizing the mercurial emotions and tics is director Joachim Trier, making good on the promise of his 2006 feature debut, the lit-related drama Reprise. This one's even better-it's about the honesty that often takes root in survivors, a rarely explored subject-but Oslo, August 31st is not an easy film.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 21, 2012
    80
    An intelligent and resonant work from Norwegian director Joachim Trier, a movie that yields up its meanings and implications slowly.
  5. Reviewed by: Philip Kemp
    May 21, 2012
    60
    Anders Danielsen Lie gives a compelling, deep-etched lead turn, and you'll find yourself drawn in as he searches for a reason to continue living.
  6. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jun 1, 2012
    100
    Oslo is an example of strong, confident filmmaking in which nothing is miscalculated or out of place. Anchored by a devastating performance by Anders Danielsen Lie, this portrait of existential despair is beautifully made without being self-conscious about its art.
  7. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    May 29, 2012
    70
    The movie falls somewhere between the austere and the playful.
  8. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    May 24, 2012
    70
    Mr. Trier and Mr. Lie - a quiet, recessive but nonetheless magnetically self-assured screen presence - emphasize Anders's individuality above all. Oslo, August 31st has the satisfying gravity of specific experience, and also, true to its title, a prickly sense of place.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 24, 2012
    90
    It's a marvelously constructed personal journey, both wrenching and bittersweet, whose emotional ripple effects stay with you for days and weeks afterward.
  10. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    May 23, 2012
    83
    Trier doesn't allow the bleakness of the material to swamp the film in a miserablist tone, but he doesn't hold back, either, in revealing every hairline crack in Lie's fragile psyche.
  11. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    May 23, 2012
    100
    Trier's compassion for what it takes to survive, mixed with the love he bestows on Oslo, is rewardingly profound.
  12. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    May 22, 2012
    80
    Matching the precision of the film's title, remembrances of things past-whether destructive or salutary, quickly mentioned or dilated upon-are shaped by just enough exacting detail.
  13. Reviewed by: Ela Bittencourt
    May 21, 2012
    88
    The evocation of things ending suffuses the film with melancholy, as Anders increasingly becomes an observant rather than a participant in his own life.
  14. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    May 21, 2012
    80
    Talented Norwegian Joachim Trier - distant cousin to the better-known (and Danish) Lars - delivers a wonderful, melancholy character piece that's funny and tender, and as fresh as a breath of Oslo sea air.
  15. 80
    Crosses the blood-brain barrier like … like … whatever the drug is, I haven't tried it, thank God. The movie eats into your mind - ­slowly.
  16. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 30, 2012
    83
    The slowness and stillness in the film are, actually, a slow boil, and in Lie's taciturnity there is pain and even horror.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Aug 30, 2012
    100
    The surface of Oslo, August 31st is as cool and crystalline as a Scandinavian lake, but at its core is a benevolence for the life we all share and tears for the man who can no longer share in it.
  18. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 29, 2012
    100
    Oslo, August 31st is quietly, profoundly, one of the most observant and sympathetic films I've seen.
  19. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 16, 2012
    75
    Oslo, August 31st builds to an unforgettable climax, a bravura sequence that starts at a party, crawls through a variety of nightclubs and raves, and ends on a note of utterly surprising lyricism.
  20. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Aug 10, 2012
    88
    Trier's all in a calendar-day conceit gives Oslo, August 31a clean, clear structure, and yet it doesn't hem it in.
  21. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jul 27, 2012
    75
    As it winds down to its quiet, haunting finale, Oslo, August 31st illustrates how all of us, even the most damaged and broken people, have a purpose to fulfill.
  22. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 19, 2012
    90
    Although it can be harrowing and disturbing, Joachim Trier's film -- and Lie's performance -- are so masterful that the movie seems more like a searing portrait of self-discovery and realization, with the understanding that not everything you learn about yourself will be pleasant.
  23. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jun 21, 2012
    75
    The impressive thing that Oslo, August 31st does is that it somehow relates what Anders is going through to the city of Oslo in general. Anders is not a metaphor for Oslo - that would be cheap and silly. Rather, he is just one more story in the naked city, and we see him against the backdrop of other people, having quite different lives.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Aug 13, 2013
    9
    Without being melodramatic or overbearing, "Oslo, August 31st" is a heart-rending film about regret, and the difficulty in forgetting ones past in order to hope for a better future. "Oslo, August 31st" is an impressive adaptation that is wonderfully acted and directed a tender and subtle portrait of a tortured soul.

    This brilliantly directed second feature from Joachim Trier "Reprise" (2009), takes place over the course of one day, following Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) as he reaches the end of his time spent at a drug rehab clinic. Some people are their own worst enemy, and Anders is exactly that person. His inability to connect with others leads to a bleak, empty existence. After a private suicide attempt, he insists in his support group that he's fine. The next day he goes to Oslo for a job interview, spending the majority of his day meeting people from his past.

    The film follows Anders throughout the day with extended conversations with various people that tell us as much about Anders, as they do about themselves. Everything we learn about Anders and his past is only through these interactions, never resorting to flashbacks. Anders simultaneously displays a condescending contempt and deep envy. His friends now lead happy lives, even if it seems everyone has become much more domesticated and boring even as their responsibilities begin to amass. Anders has his freedom but his freedom feels completely empty and aimless.

    In the best scene in the film, Anders sits alone at a coffee shop, taking in all the conversations around him. Everyone else is talking about their troubles, their aspirations, or their everyday routines. In contrast, Anders has none of these things. No real worries, no real direction in life. He's adrift, completely lost, and alone.

    Lie's central performance as Anders is truly remarkable, a self-confessed "spoilt brat who up," his actions are not always sympathetic, but every little knock he takes over the course of the film has a cumulative effect. He's aided enormously by Trier's smart and analytical screenplay, as are the rest of the uniformly excellent cast.

    It's an emotionally draining experience, and Anders' determinedly pessimistic outlook and inability to escape his past is as saddening as it is inevitable. Trier has carefully crafted a portrait of an addict, and the pressures of modern life with outstanding technical assurance. It's a sad story, but beautifully told.
    Full Review »
  2. May 3, 2013
    9
    Quiet yet powerful, uneventful yet overwhelming. Joachim Trier is a masterful observant of the subtleties that make the most profound impact and whispers them in our ears thus making them more personal. Full Review »
  3. Feb 23, 2013
    2
    I'm shocked that this film received such high praise from critics. I found it overly bleak and lacking any real emotional depth, a shallow wallowing in exististential nihilism. This film essentially says, "Life is meaningless." If you're hesitant about suicide, this little cinematic ray of sunshine may provide the push you need to finally go through with it. And I now have absolutely no desire to visit Oslo, Norway, because evidently it is the most depressing place on Earth. Full Review »