Oslo, August 31

Although freely adapted from a 1931 novel which also inspired a Louis Malle film in 1963, Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s sophomore feature feels effortlessly contemporary. It’s a day in the life of a sad young literary man, fresh from drug rehab, who revisits his city and his own squandered potential. Such heavy stuff needs a light touch, and Trier has it; all of Oslo’s essentials — writing, design, acting, shooting, cutting — merge into an alertly cinematic support system for lead actor Anders Danielsen Lie, who haunts the proceedings with heart-wrenching desperation.