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Oslo, True To History, But A Stretch Nonetheless




Starring  Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson and Jeff Wilbusch,

Directed  by  Bartless Sher,

Rating: **

Oslo makes you claustrophobic.  It seldom moves out of  the  inner chambers,  roomy and  commodious  as they are. Nonetheless, indoors are indoors.And that’s where this  play-on-film belongs.

 In a  rare sequence  when  the characters  negotiating peace between Israel and  Palestine step out into the  snowcapped whiteness of Oslo, the selfimportant political film breathes easy. The magnetic  Jeff   Wilbusch playing the Israeli minister for foreign affairs, walks with his Palestinian  counterpart . As they chat about their families, they both discover they have a daughter named Maya.

This  in itself may  not be  much of a earth-shaker . But given the  film’s  narrow context it is  a  humane moment that  stays with you.The rest of what transpires  is  of importance only to the  two parties that signed the Oslo  Accord.  This  is  not to say  I  don’t care for world peace. I just don’t care to watch a  dull  plodding  film about it.

Not that  Oslo lacks  in talent.  It has lineup of   talented actors who are cast correctly according to their cultural  antecedents. The main  protagonists the  husband  and wife team of Norwegians Mona Juul( Ruth Wilson) and   Terje Rød-Larsen(Andrew Scott) are played by fine British actors who  try to  inject  the  proceedings with an infectious energy. However it all seems a  bit contrived  with  diplomats  and  politicians   from both ends trying to  embody centuries  of  conflict and differences.

Oslo wears a  heavy theatrical appearance  from first to last.And with  good reason. It is  a celebrated  play written  by  J T  Rogers, who fatally, has  also written the screenplay. Little wonder  then that the conversations  hardly ever move outdoors. In fact the narrative hardly ever  MOVES!  Perhaps  rendered  frozen  by  the  importance  of what  it is  recording, Janusz Kamiński’s camera stays reverently inert  .Kaminski is a regular  on Steven Spielberg’s film. Here  the theatre stamp  inhibits his lenses, renders them wonderstruck.

 Frozen  in   self-admiration this  recreation of what came to be known as  the  Oslo Accord, a  sort  of extra-constitutional  pact  between Israel and Palestine facilitated by a Norwegian couple  who have nothing to gain and everything to  lose if the Accord fails, which  it had every chance of  doing, Oslo oscillates  painfully between  political drama and  just drama.While applauding  the couple’s initiative I  wish  their efforts were put into a more  involving  film.

The  only time I felt happy watching Oslo was when the  ever-beaming  cook wheeled  in the delicacies for the  Palestine and Israeli peace-keepers.  I am sure they could do with the break.

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