Dir: Joachim Trier. Nor. 2006. 105mins.
First-time director Joachim Trier makes a bright, frenetic and agile debut with Reprise, the story of two would-be Norwegiannovelists in their early twenties, trying to make it in the worlds of bothliterature and adulthood.
The picture's main qualityis the immediacy of performances from a mostly non-professional cast, as wellas how the writer and director never put a foot wrong with their intimate sympathyfor each of the characters and the milieu around them. Though often toointricate for its own good, its stream-of-consciousness narrative offers notonly a counterpoint to the visuals but also a series of alternative options theplot can - and eventually does - follow.
Very much a labour of love, Reprise is already being courted by autumnfestival programmes. With some luck, it could also land comfortable theatricaldistribution slots, targeting a youthful post-teen audience.
Erik (Hoiner)and Philip (Lide) both dream of writing the greatnovel of their generation. Eric's manuscript is turned down, while Philip's ispublished and acclaimed by the critics. But soon after publication Philipsuffers a nervous breakdown and is hospitalised with a genetic mental disorder;his intense romance with Kai (Winge) is also abruptlyterminated by doctors who suspect it is too obsessive for his own good.
Released after six months oftreatment, he finds most support from Erik, still smarting after his ownliterary defeat; the rest of Philip's pals meanwhile continue in their merry-making,carefree existence, hiding their own personal insecurities and immaturitybehind typical male bravado.
The story then zigzagsbetween past and present, fact and fiction, as the friends settle down, emotionally,sexually and professionally, one after the other.
Erik has his own shot atglory when his strange-titled novel Prosotopea isfinally published; there is also a meeting with Sven EgilDahl (Saeverud) a fictitious reclusive author theyall admire (think Salinger, Pynchon or Maurice Blanchot), immediately counter-balanced by the news of the writer'sdeath. Philip also attempts to revive his affair with Kai, suffers anotherbreakdown, then decides that he does not have thestamina to pursue a literary career any longer. Erik retires to Paris to writehis second opus and, as Kurt Vonnegut would put it, so it goes.
Reprise's plotlineis of less note than its delivery, for it is never clear what might havehappened and what actually does. Rather Trier'sscript is there to underline the authentic details of the labyrinthineexistence of its characters, cleverly juxtaposing text to image. It's anapproach that keeps the audience constantly on its toes, although it sometimesconfuses and works against the best interests and clarity of the overall piece.
Alert camera work and snappyediting add to this composite image of a generation, which also benefits from fresh-facedperformances from a cast of unknowns faces, adding another dimension of authenticity.In particular the lead trio of Klouman Hoiner, Danielsen Lie and Winge identify with their parts to the extent that it isimpossible to distinguish between them and their characters.
Nordisk Film International Sales
Olivier Bougge Coute
Espen Klouman Hoiner
Anders Danielsen Lie
Odd Magnus Williamson