Oslo, August 31st

Oslo, August 31st ★★★★½

Much less stylized than REPRISE, which at first was a disappointment; it turns out to have been made on a much shorter turnaround, and the result is ultimately a testimony to Trier's innate cinematic sensibilities. There's an astonishing natural, lived-in feel to the performances and the characters, and the oft-hackeneyed "one day" telescopic plot device never feels contrived or rife with coincidence. That naturalism extends to the conversations as well, which often unfold at length, and yet it's not a doggedly, tediously-kitchen sink realist film - the camera use is far too canny for that, without being ostentatious. The use of sound design (another deviation from naturalism) is subtle yet immaculate; the climax to the cafe scene (which itself is instantly one of my favorite scenes in any film, ever, no hyperbole) is a perfect demonstration of that skill, one of many. Some will find the lead character tests their sympathies beyond the breaking point; unlike me, my viewing companion was dry-eyed at the end of the film. Not much else to say there without going into spoilers, which I'd rather avoid in the face of tireless advocacy for this film, but Mike D'Angelo's review pretty much covers the opposing viewpoint if you don't mind some spoilage. Anyway, I'm not one of those guys who would say shit like "my cinema has room for only one Trier", but if I was forced to choose, I'm okay with sticking with Joachim.