Friday, July 04, 2008


The 4th of July, Independence Day, means fireworks, flags, the summer warmth, hot dogs and bunting. Rather than do all that I’d rather go see a film from Norway at the Circle. After watching Reprise (2007) and being surprised at its quality (I knew little about this film before I saw it…all I knew really is that it was from Norway)—I think I made the right choice. Seeing a really good movie means more to me than patriotic overkill any day of the week. I’d rather be inside with the air conditioner anyway in this swarming heat.

Written and directed by Joachim Trier, Reprise is an honest jewel of a picture—direct, sly, romantic, smart, and bursting at the seams with ideas and intelligence. The film is energetic when it needs to be but not afraid to slow itself down to dwell in rumination and thought. It’s the quiet, silent moments that give Reprise its heart.

Reprise is set in Oslo amongst a group of male friends in their early 20s. They are all intellectual types who dream of having their first attempts at novels published, run design/ad agencies, listen to good music, philosophize about the world they exist in and try to get along with the women who enter their tight-knit sphere. The basics of the story is something you’ve seen before— buddies hanging out—but Trier digs deep into various elements of friendship throughout the film that take the story to corners you don’t expect to go.

I love it when a film attempts to discuss “writing” or the nature of writing as a creative endeavor and Reprise has lots of exceptional moments about books—the writing, the publishers, the blank computer screen, the insecurity of your words, the promotion, the fickleness of the critics. Books are an important daily activity in my life—I read from a book every day of my life—so to see characters talk about books, pick up books, well, that’s just exhilarating for me to see.

Reprise just isn’t about books though. It’s got a couple of intriguing romances—and lets loose with lots of observations on the male/female dynamic via the Norwegian mindset—and a major aspect of the film’s story is the psychological issues one of the friends has and how it changes him and all the relationships around him. I liked how the film was pieced together—it jumps forward, backward, freezes, pretends for the future.

Reprise makes you work a bit—not only the bright script but with the framework of the film’s story—but it is the most satisfying, original and entertaining film I’ve seen so far in 2008. Reprise has a depth of layers to it, combined with a level of sophistication in the dialogue and assured, confident direction from Trier. Here is a filmmaker to pay attention to.

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