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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Turn Me On, Dammit!

MOVIE REVIEWS

TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! (2012)

Starring Helene Bergsholm, Malin Bjørhovde, Henriette Steenstrup, Beate Støfring, Matias Myren, Lars Nordtveit Listau, Jon Bleiklie Devik, Julia Bache-Wiig, Julia Elise Schacht, Arthur Berning, Hilde-Gunn Ommedal, Ole Johan Skjelbred-Knutsen, Finn Tokvam, Per Kjerstad and the voice of Olaug Nilssen.

Screenplay by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen.

Directed by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen.

Distributed by New Yorker Films.  76 minutes.  Not Rated.

 

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Turn Me On, Dammit!

The sexual awakenings of teenage girls is not a subject that gets much play in movies - and when it does, the films tend to be overwrought cautionary tales.  However, there is nothing more natural than discovering your way in the adult world and this smart, funny Norwegian coming-of-age film is a surprising charmer.

Much of this comes from its main character.  Alma (Helene Bergsholm) is an almost-sixteen year old outcast girl who lives in the drab Norwegian town Skoddeheimen.  (The town is so hated Alma and other residents ritualistically give the middle finger to the town sign when they drive past it.)  Alma is sweet and pretty, shy and romantic, and she has suddenly discovered her vagina and is giving it a workout.  She is also not exactly discreet about her new fascinations.

We are introduced to her as she is masturbating on her kitchen floor, talking with a phone sex line, while her dog confusedly sits and watches.  Then, her mother arrives home unexpectedly, turning Alma into a whirl of arms and legs as she covers up before getting caught.  The visual is much more humorous than shocking, hinting us into the film's off-beat and somehow sweet and innocent view of sex. 

Alma is constantly living in a romantic fantasy world in her head, mostly revolving around Artur (Matias Myren), a cute guy who lives down the street.  We often see Alma's fantasies and the audience sometimes doesn't know whether what is happening is real or in her head - in fact for a long time you don't know for sure if the turning point for her in the story really happened or not.

At a local party, Alma is smoking out back and flirting with Artur.  Later she tells a friend that while they were talking, out of the blue, Artur took out his penis and poked her with it.  She claimed to be confused and not sure what to do about it.  What she didn't realize was that the girl had a crush on Artur too, so she told everyone.  Artur denied it ever happened, and Alma quickly gets a reputation as the town whore.  (She is called Pikk-Alma, which means "dick-Alma" in her native tongue.) 

In the meantime, Alma's mother can't quite come to terms with her daughter's sudden fascination with sex and the crazy messes that she is getting into because of this obsession.

Alma, on the other hand, dreams of getting away from her dreary hometown, and still sort of holds onto her overly romantic world view.  Yes, she is curious about sex in a slightly over-the-top way, but it is just part of a larger quest to leave childhood behind.

This could all feel a little creepy if the film had the wrong tone, but Alma is played as a sweet, funny, confused girl.  The sex is not overly explicit and her experiences and pitfalls feel like real life lessons, not mere exploitation. 

In the end, Turn Me On, Dammit! isn't so much about sex at all as it is about self-discovery.  It is a smart and funny look at a very overwhelming time in life, and the film is both compassionate and droll. 

It is the type of reflective and yet surprisingly funny film that does not get made often in the States - and it may be just as well, if they ever did try to make an American version of this story, they would undoubtedly stress all the wrong points, add lots of gross-out humor and eventually punish Alma for her curiosity.

Instead, Turn Me On, Dammit! takes an ironic and slightly bittersweet look at a rite of passage that happens much more often than some people may admit. 

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 29, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 29, 2012.

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