Joachim Trier’s debut Reprise remains one of my favorite films of all time so given the chance to see his follow-up Oslo, August 31 via the excellent New Directors, New Films series I didn’t hesitate. This was Trier’s second time featured in the series and gave American audiences another valuable chance to see his work in the MoMA’s plush basement screening room. Oslo is considerably darker than Reprise given it’s focus on a young man’s struggle with addiction but still has bright moments of shared humor and beautifully captured episodes of city life. Reprise co-star Anders Danielsen, who is actually a doctor by trade, returns here to give a brave and nuanced performance. Trier is admittedly a big fan of the work of Chris Marker and Alain Resnais which is evident in the inventive narrative devices he uses to explore memory and personal connection to a particular place. I was impressed with Trier’s ability to write a very specific story with a solid narrative structure while still allowing plenty of space for improvisation and small moments to occur – a rare and valuable strength for a filmmaker.
I have a personal affinity for Trier’s films. We are the same age and share many of the same reference points (Sebastien Tellier’s “La Ritournelle”, quite possibly my favorite song ever recorded, pops up in Oslo). He just seems like someone I would hang out with and in 2007 when I got to do a feature on him for Nerve.com’s now defunct Screengrab blog we ended up having an hour plus conversation at the SoHo Grand. When I went up to congratulate him after Oslo he remembered me right away. He thanked me for some music I had given him and quickly admitted that he hadn’t read the screenplay I’d included as he was flooded with English-language scripts at the time and had decided to develop his own material rather than adapt someone else’s. Fair enough, although it did sting a bit when he asked me, “So did you make the film?” He’s a warm and talented guy who people seem naturally drawn to. He’s also someone to watch for in the future as I think it’s only a matter of time before he makes the often-requested English-language crossover film and gains a much wider audience. Those interested in reading the feature I did on him for Reprise can find it here: Joachim Trier (Nerve Interview)