Oslo cast: Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson, Salim Daw, Jeff Wilbusch, Yair Hirschfeld and Igal Naor
Director of Oslo: Bartlett Sher
Oslo rating: 4 stars
Oslo is a drama based on the play of the same name by the American playwright JT Rogers. It recounts the back-channel negotiations prior to the first Oslo Accords and their immediate aftermath. For those who don’t know, the Oslo Accords were two agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) claiming to represent the Palestinian people.
The accords were just one of many attempts – if not finally to resolve the long-drawn-out conflict between Israel and Palestine – to initiate a conversation between the leaders that will eventually lead to that outcome.
The accords were made possible by a Norwegian couple, Mona Juul, a diplomat played by Ruth Wilson, and Terje Rød-Larsen, the director of the Fafo Foundation think tank, played by Andrew Scott, and show the events from their perspective.
First, the film is not what you would normally expect from something that portrays similarities between people who have been bitter enemies for over seven decades. That is, the scope of the film is relatively small. It is an intimate drama that focuses on those involved in the talks that led to the signing of the agreement.
Sure, there are mentions of the fates of millions of people and how it affects the region, but the plot is usually how a bunch of people, with views that are opposed to each other, met, talked, and tried to find common ground. .
Oslo largely succeeds in what it wants to achieve. It assumes that you already know quite a bit about the conflict and the unimaginable physical and mental toll it has taken on the people affected. If you want an interpreter, look elsewhere.
Salim Daw and Dov Glickman in Oslo. (Photo: HBO)
It tells us that the solution to any problem starts with starting a dialogue. Conversation, even if it is a lengthy process, is the only way forward, especially when it comes to knotty international issues like these.
In the first act of the movie, a Jewish professor meets a PLO leader, and everyone is surprised to find that the other person is not the monster they thought he would be.
Every main character in Oslo is written with a warmth and sensitivity, rarely seen in films about diplomatic affairs. This writer is aware that the characterization in this movie doesn’t always depict actual people, but it hardly matters. Because Oslo is a drama, not a documentary.
The performances are great and go a long way in bringing the characters to life and making them feel like real, three-dimensional people. Andrew Scott is probably the best of the lot and puts on an understated, nuanced performance. One cannot help but sympathize with his outbursts and exasperation, especially in situations where he expresses frustration with the stubbornness of relinquishing ground and compromising on both sides. Ruth Wilson, Salim Daw, Jeff Wilbusch, Yair Hirschfeld, and Igal Naor are all great.
Oslo is not a great political movie. However, it is a remarkable human drama about people from two hostile communities who muster the courage to get together and talk. The Oslo Accords were unsuccessful and did not bring peace to the region – at least not for long. But these agreements have proven to the world that there was a solution to the problem, but it is always up to the stakeholders to move forward.
Oslo is streaming on Disney + Hotstar Premium.