From Denmark comes this fairly disappointing ho-hum drama that alludes to greatness but never actually reaches such heights. Hawaii, Oslo is a crisis drama, with many intertwining narrative threads (ala Magnolia or 21 Grams), and I have to confess that I’m a little tired of such films. With the exception of the powerful Crash, recently there’s been a little too much of the ‘multiple storyline, singular grand concept’ films.
The opening certainly grabs your attention. The pacing of the first few minutes, coupled with the artfully disorienting glimpses we get of the characters to come is fantastic. This makes the film all the more frustrating, as from the 60 minute mark I was just wanting it to hurry up and end. The performances are uniformly impressive, but I never really got too attached to any of the faces running about an apparently sweltering 30 degree day in Oslo.
Hawaii, Oslo dabbles with the notion of fate (with only smallest amount of hocus pocus), although before long it’s simply trying to trick the audience, and nothing more. Tom Tykwer’s films (such as Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt) and The Princess and the Warrior (Der Krieger und die Kaiserin) dealt similar themes but with absorbing narratives and fascinating characters.
The score was fantastic, and often succeeded where the story did not. Occasionally reminiscent of Mychael Danna’s The Ice Storm, the beautifully haunting tintinnabulations of the leitmotif made for some enchanting moments.
Style is no substitute for meaning. Hawaii, Oslo goes where other films have gone before but only vaguely succeeds in uncovering the bare bones of a thin concept. There was no underlying push towards something greater than the some of its parts. I would be interested to see the other films of Erik Poppe, as there is certainly a great director at work here, even if the writing lacks somewhat.Rating: