"Reprise" is set in Oslo, the capital of Norway, a city that rarely is seen on American movie screens. Yet this story of sensitive, competitive young intellectuals who love books and music and long to be great artists won't seem unfamiliar to those who have watched or read many coming-of-age tales about educated, privileged and attractive young people, whatever their nation of origin.
Erik and Phillip are trying to make it as writers. Erik is rejected by publishers as lacking in talent, while Phillip's manuscript is accepted and ...
Rating: R for sexuality and language
Length: 105 minutes
Released: May 16, 2008 Limited
Cast: Anders Danielsen Lie, Espen Klouman-Høiner, Viktoria Winge, Henrik Elvestad, Christian Rubeck
Director: Joachim Trier
Writer: Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt
The film's two lead best friends are young writers, which may explain the frequent narration. This voiceover is both omniscient and fanciful, sometimes imagining events that don't actually occur, as if we are hearing excerpts from the characters' novels.
More often, the narration is descriptive. "Phillip loved her parodies of 'sexy' girls in music videos," the voice says at one point, over footage of lovers Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Kari (Viktoria Winge) that doesn't match the narrator's words. "She was the only girl he had met who had the Ramones' Road to Ruin on vinyl. ... His gaze made her feel pretty."
And so it goes. Through narration, writer-director Joachim Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt tell us about things -- such as Kari's music video parodies -- that we would rather see. The result is a movie that might have been more effective in script form than onscreen, its handsome photography and cast notwithstanding.
Phillip achieves literary success before his best friend, Erik (Espen Klouman-Hiner). But Phillip's lionization doesn't make him happy, and he has a severe breakdown. As he struggles with his depression, Erik's career ascends. The tension between Phillip's instability and Erik's aspirations and guilt over his friend's dilemma drive the film, but aren't enough to sustain our interest.
"Reprise" earned Best Film, Best Direction and Best Screenplay honors at the 2007 Amanda Awards, given annually at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, Norway, "to promote and improve Norwegian film." Everybody associated with this production can be proud of their efforts, but "Reprise" is as dull as it is professional. I realized the movie had lost me when it occurred to me that after spending many minutes with Phillip and Erik, I had no interest in reading any novel that either of them might have written.
In Norwegian with English subtitles, "Reprise" is playing exclusively at Malco's Ridgeway Four.
-- John Beifuss: 529-2394