Yet another great Norwegian movie
Once upon a time there were two boys, Philip and Erik, who dreamed of becoming authors. So they wrote and wrote and wrote and one day their novels were finished and ready to be posted to a publisher. They were full of young and cocky creams, hopeful or even convinced that they would be accepted.
And they were! Or at least one of them was, Philip. Over a night he was appointed a young, upcoming writer, the new star on the literature scene. And Erik tried to not be too let down by his rejection. If nothing else you could always make up an alternative reality in your day dreams, about how things should have been.
This is the setup of Reprise, a movie by the Norwegian director Joachim Trier which you probably haven’t heard of. Or maybe you have, if you’ve been following my writing for a while.
A few months ago I praised Trier’s second movie, Oslo, August 31st, from 2011. Reprise was his debut in 2006, and considering its name, it’s funny how much the two feature films he’s made until this date remind of each other.
In Oslo, August 31st we see a young journalist, walking around in Oslo as he’s released from a rehab centre, meeting up with ex-friends while contemplating the question whether life is worth living.
In Reprise the young man is a writer, and he’s treated for mental issues instead of drug addiction. But the actor is the same (Anders Danielsen Lie, excellent in both roles) and in both films you see him moping and brooding with the same sort of people in a similar environment.
There are a couple of differences though. Oslo August 31st was a straight forward, linear story, while Reprise is fragmentized and has a timeline that is messed up. We’re jumping back and forward in time and perspective and you’re not always certain if what you see is something that happens for real or if it’s just in someone’s imagination.
Reprise is also less dark than its successor. Yes, there is misery. There’s always an element of melancholy in coming-of-age films about young people searching for love, acceptance and identity. But the existential angst is manageable and sprinkled with a lot of funny little scenes, making fun of the little world that those young intellectuals inhabit.
A hard sell
I’m aware of that this film is a very hard sell. In fact most readers have probably stopped reading this post at this point.
This film has so much against it. It’s foreign, subtitled and made by a young, unheard-of director. It has a diffuse plot, more about character development than a journey from point A to point B. It also contains a hefty amount of voice-over. If this is something that bothers you, consider yourself warned. Personally I don’t mind voice-overs, but I know there are others who get rashes at the very thought of it, considering it a cheat.
So how shall I convince you to give Reprise priority over the blockbusters of the summer? Frankly I don’t know.
I just think you should, if nothing else to enjoy the beautiful cinematography, inspired by classical European painters such as Vermeer.
Watch it because it’s funny and touching.
Watch it because it hits the balance point, being poetic and open for interpretations without ever diving into annoying obscurity and endless self introspection.
Watch it to get familiar with Joachim Trier. I think he’s a director worth keeping an eye at for the future.
Reprise (Joachim Trier, NO, 2006) My rating: 4/5