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  • Wendy Shreve

SEARCHING FOR VIABLE PEACE: OSLO



If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.


--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


When many Westerners remember war, they see an end. Even with our longest engagement, (Afghanistan) to our involvement in skirmishes abroad, from a distance peace appears imaginable And yet, a battle has raged for decades, since the establishment of the state of Israel, which the United States has overtly and covertly supported. Diplomats here have argued Israel and Palestine need to find a middle ground in order to reach the end.


One of the previous attempts in the quest for a viable, longstanding armistice between the two adversaries comprised the Oslo Accords, beginning in 1992. This time Scandinavians initially brokered the peace.


Oslo (2021), J. T. Roger's adaptation based on his titular play, begins with an eerie vision of one of the key Norwegian players in the backchannel negotiations, Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson), walking along snow-covered, bombed out streets in Palestine. The silent, illustrative elegy segues to her participation as a United Nations aid worker, the dangers she and her future husband, Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott) faced.


Years later, we see Terje attempting to convince a top Israeli official of continuing public talks while establishing secret, face-to-face negotiations with the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) in Norway How they and others managed to find a common ground that produced the newsworthy handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, sealing the deal, is the basis for Oslo.


No matter your allegiance or neutrality, some will find it difficult to watch the unfolding story without looking for each side's ill-advised choices, searching for the tear in the fabric of the carefully woven diplomatic tapestry which both sides achieve. Yes, observing negotiations on screen can be off-putting; but, Rogers and director Bartlett Sher insert humorous moments, suspenseful confrontations and provide a human portrait of the delegates who began the proceedings.


Wilson and Scott--she brilliant, he convincing (accent aside)--often must be coaches on the sidelines, only calling foul when tensions overflow. The chemistry between the actors, as a couple, is less than persuasive.


What haunts Oslo involves the reality of what followed; the wishful thinking, albeit arguably naïve, the Norwegian diplomats had for an end to the acrimony. Historical reminders at the movie's conclusion of the tragedies that led to a resumption of hostilities emphasize how fragile the peace had been and would be. Viewers can't help be affected by the attempt.


Oslo illustrates how entangled diplomacy can be. Too bad the film delivers only a brief picture of the complexities of the drama.


Unrated. Adult themes, brief gunfire, language and heated arguments.


Now streaming on HBO Max.


Earlier reviews are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies


Care to share? Post or e-mail your comments to featuringfilmreviewer@gmail.com

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