The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Yet another great Norwegian movie

with 14 comments

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

Written by Jessica

June 27, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Reprise

14 Responses

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  1. I’ll keep an eye out for both film’s of Trier’s. Cheers Jessica.

    Mark Walker

    June 27, 2012 at 8:45 am

    • Please do! I favour Oslo, August 31st slightly over Reprise since it was so emotionally devastating. But both are really good. Such a remarkably talented young filmmaker. I’m convinced we’ll see more of him in the future.


      June 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

  2. I am going to have to see this now!! You know how i love most things TV and Film that come from your (ish) way.

    Thanks for this Jessica

    • Thanks Scott! Be warned that Trier’s work is a little more artsy style than most of the movies I see. But not so artsy that it’s incomprehensible. It was also a reminder to me of what it was like to be just over 20. And it was kind of a relief. Sometimes I grief over my lost youth, but watching this it dawned on me that being a bit older and more jaded, with perhaps a few lost illusions in the baggage, actually isn’t so bad.
      Those kids seem so ungrounded, so at a loss… Well, you’ll see what I mean when/if you watch it.


      June 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

  3. I’ve been really getting into all things Scandinavian in terms of TV and film, so think you’ve managed to sell this one too me. Will keep an eye out for it.


    June 27, 2012 at 10:34 am

    • Yay, I tried hard, didn’t I? 🙂
      Oslo, August 31st might be a tad easier to get hold of since it came out last year. should be available on DVD.


      June 27, 2012 at 10:38 am

  4. Jessica, I watched Reprise a few years ago, and it’s a great movie. What interested me is how it sets up the premise and then goes in a different direction that I expected. It’s a lot more about the characters than the set-up. I agree that getting many people to watch foreign films is difficult, but I don’t think it’s such a hard sell in this case. I’m glad you’re spotlighting such a good little film!


    June 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    • Yay! Someone else who has seen it, that’s wonderful! I hope you’ve had the opportunity to see Oslo or that you will get it. It’s a great companion I think. They belong together.


      June 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

  5. I’ve been wanting to catch this one ever since I saw OSLO. Good to hear that you were impressed by it, which means that I will probably like it too. The hard part is finding it.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    June 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    • Oh BJ, I can always count on you when it comes to odd foreign movies! I hope you can find Reprise. Perhaps there is hope. I stumbled upon it in my DVD rental store and it seemed to have been released recently here. Perhaps it’s international…


      June 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

  6. Nice review 🙂


    July 1, 2012 at 6:45 am

  7. This sounds like something I’d really enjoy. I’m adding it to my “to see” list — thanks for introducing me to this film and director.


    July 3, 2012 at 1:50 am

    • Thanks Stephanie! This is the best part of blogging, when you can help out others to make new discoveries.


      July 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

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