Reprise is a film
about first-time novelists which sort of feels like it was also written by a
This is both a good
attribute and bad.
In the good category: it
has passion, is intelligent, is visually arresting, is romantic (about
literature and friendship - though not really love), has a love of books and
the written and spoken word, is somewhat idealistic, smart and trying
desperately to be artistically pure.
In the bad category: it is
kind of self-indulgent, its characters are not as intriguing as they should
or could be, the film doesn't seem to understand how immature and sometimes
unlikeable these guys are, and it's
trying desperately to be
It turns out that this,
indeed, is the first feature film by Danish filmmaker Joachim Trier.
He is related to the talented-but-notoriously self-indulgent director Lars
von Trier (Dogville, Dear Wendy) - though they make a point of
saying in a press kit that they are distantly related.
As a first film, Reprise
shows great promise, though it can sometimes be a little frustrating.
This Norwegian film - shot
mostly in Oslo with some side trips to Paris - tells the story of two young
men of 23 who have aspirations to literary greatness. In fact the
prologue - in which the Erik (Espen Klouman-Høiner) and Phillip
(Anders Danielsen Lie) slip their manuscripts into a mailbox and the film
quickly runs through a catalogue of their expectations... good and bad... of
what life has in store for them as members of the literati - is a compact
and stunning bit of filmmaking.
The film reaches these
heights again periodically, but too often the film becomes much more
It turns out Phillip is
good enough to sell his novel right away, while Erik has to continue toiling
after rejection to eventually also be published. The irony is, while
Phillip may have more pure talent, he is also mentally unstable and can't
handle his new cult stardom and becomes obsessive about Kari (Viktoria Winge),
a local girl he took to Paris - eventually getting committed. Even
when he is released from the hospital he is obviously seriously damaged.
For example, when his mother removes all the pictures of the Paris trip with
Kari for fear that they will set off a relapse, Phillip convinces the girl
to go back to Paris with him. He sets it up so that they go on the
same dates, stay at the same hotel, go to the same cafés and retake the same
pictures - in a sequence which is much more creepy than it is romantic.
The less-talented Erik
eventually sells his book as well - and he is much more emotionally prepared
for the notoriety which publishing brings. Of course, part of this may
be due to the fact that Erik's book is released to much more muted acclaim.
However, the two idolize a reclusive local author (Sigmund Sæverud) - who
appears to pop up an awful lot for a recluse - and the aging author tells
Erik that he read his book and it shows great promise until the end when he
tries to be too poetic.
Erik also has a girlfriend,
a blonde beauty named Lillian (Silje Hagen) who he spends most of the film avoiding or
debating whether or not to break up with. However, we can't really get
a handle on the relationship or a rooting interest for them, because
the film doesn't
care for her any more than Erik does - in fact we do not even get a good
look at her face until her final scene, when she finally has had enough and
dumps him. Before that, she is shot mostly from the back or looking
away from the camera.
Other than this, Erik and
Phillip go to parties, hang out with their childhood friends (most of whom
seem to be kind of assholes), go to concerts and deal with typical
obviously inspired by the French new wave films of Truffaut, Lelouch,
Resnais and Godard. As an inspiration, it's a good place to go, though
Reprise captures the look and feel of the films without quite attaining their
symbolic power and depth of feeling.
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Posted: August 31, 2008.