Ryan James Quinn’s review published on Letterboxd:
30 Countries, 30 Days.
Day 12, Film 11
Time Period: present
Theme: Recovery from addiction, existentialism
Style of Subtitle: Small font white (smallest yet), tiny black outline. Often italicized.
Funniest / Oddest Subtitle: "the one with Dolph Lundgren"
What did I learn about the country: Lot's of building going on in Oslo.
Coincidental relation to last country I watched: South Korea has strict drug laws. Admitting to drug use in other countries can result in the same punishment as possession of the drug itself.
I heard there's an American remake planned: Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Directed by Kelly Reichardt.
Anders is an addict who is not prepared to face his sobriety. He is rife with resentments, unable to suppress anger, full of doubt, and holds in his emotions. The film opens with an attempted suicide, followed by a support group meeting where Anders refuses to share real emotions or thoughts with the group. If someone is only as sick as their secrets, then Anders is certainly still very sick. On the precipice of completely giving up he refuses to allow help his way from the group.
Amongst Proust quotes and over-intellectualizing with Thomas, Anders is allowed to surround himself with a kind of avoidance. Focusing on "the head" one can ignore "the heart". The line "If someone wants to destroy themselves, society will let them do so" is spoken. There is help in the world, but a person needs to seek it out. "Society" will not stop to save someone all it's own, a person in need must put out to the world their fears and worries in order for society provide support back. Keeping feeling within, only projecting out from the head, "society" can be tricked into not noticing the needs of an individual.
At a job interview and over a lunch meeting, Anders becomes angered by the subject of his addiction coming up. He directs his anger at the people across the tables from him, but it actually himself that he is angry with. His actions have caused heartache and distrust in others, it is incorrect to then direct anger at them when the results of his actions are on display. During the interview Anders assigns a critical opinion towards his own past to the interviewer - making assumptions about what the interviewer will think of him. At the lunch he faces direct results of his past.
In order to regain the relationships he has lost, Anders needs to acknowledge his problem more directly and understand that people need time to recover themselves from trust that has been stripped away. He is unable to give people the time they need regardless of the time that he has taken away from them.
There is an interesting sequence in a cafe where Anders sits and overhears what people are saying. The world is full of people with problems, with loves, with dreams, with worries. In a sea of humanity it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the stresses that life brings. At the same time it is amazing how easy it is to have a shared experience, a way to connect with another person so that they may help to overcome a problem. Anders has allowed his addiction to create all the problems in his life, and his self-doubt is preventing him from recognizing the musical or writing talent that he has.
The only time that Anders shares openly about his feelings is through internal dialogue while walking about the city alone. His isolation is what is holding back his recovery. Like the movie Flight, when left alone an addict develops the most damaging thoughts. Eventually he is stealing money at a party. He may be clean, but he is not sober. And once he is out on his own his abstinence is predictably in jeopardy.
At a bar he is criticized for his attempt at forgiveness. This is ironic, because what resembles an act of making an amend with someone in his past is maybe the closest that Anders comes to demonstrating a sober behavior - which is quickly met with mocking and insulting. It should be noted though that Anders is probably not established within himself yet to be making any amends with others, so it is his timing not his action that is wrong.
The movie closes in one of the most haunting ways. Backtracking through locations that he has been at over during the last day. Starting with the public pool that mirrors water of the suicide attempt in the beginning, the shots move to an empty cafe, an empty street, an empty park bench, and eventually a window with no one in front of it. The world goes on with or without Anders, but there is a noticeably void in the world without him. Unfortunately he is unable to see this himself, internalizing his guilt and anger to a point of selfish self-destruction.