Note: ‘Fingerfucked by the Prime Minister’ is now our favourite song.
Of course the Times London Film Festival is yet to start and there’s a kabillion and one screenings ahead of us but Joachim Trier’s Reprise is going to be hard to top for sheer freshness and warmth. Simply put it’s a brilliant piece of film making.
A group of friends whose lives revolve around literature and music unravel a charming punkrock story through modern day Oslo and examine what it means to succeed, what friendship offers and more importantly how to liven up a dull party simply by pulling the speakers and playing Le Tigre via your iPod at full blast.
Best friends, Erik and Philip, both post their finished novels at the opening of the film and we follow not only what happens to them as a result (success, modest fame, failure, hospitalisation, girls) but also what could have been. Trier utilises a Wes Anderson like montage of information to pave the things that might have been. He takes the utmost glee in playing with nonlinear techniques while never letting the story stray to far from the heart of the matter. The young cast is without exception outstanding, especially Anders Danielsen Lie as the melancholic and troubled Phillip and Espen Klouman Høiner’s Erik who has a few of his own problems to deal with. Their story is buoyed up by the almost ever present circle of friends headed by ex-punk Morten (the superbly named Odd-Magnus Williamson from bands Red, White Blacks and Royal Condolence) who help provide some of the biggest laughs.
A number of flashback sequences are dotted through the movie to flesh out the characters (one brilliantly mortifying scene shows Erik’s mum finding porn on her PC and asking the forlorn teen how would he feel if that was her spread out over the screen) that have the feel of autobiography (perhaps Tier’s, perhaps the co-writer Eskil Vogt’s). We have no idea if the cultural scene in Norway is anything like what is portrayed here, but we suspect that a lot of what Tier reveals about the literary life is just as applicable to his path through the film industry as a director of acclaimed shorts.
There’s also the constant threat of failure revealed in Phillip’s health problems, but while it would have been easy to tip into Bergmanesque contemplations (and there are a few worrying moments when we think Phillip is going to fall too far) Tier gracefully manages to pull back and lead his characters into a different direction without betraying the pace of the film at all. In fact it’s a fast moving blast of a film, helped along considerably by the music that forms a backdrop, but is as important to the characters as literature (and often more important than the opposite sex).
Kommune appear in the film, while there’s a LOT of Joy Division, a broad swipe at rock music and a soundtrack that pairs up Le Tigre with Turbonegro. Trier it also turns out was twice the Norwegian skateboarding champion which may not have helped in directing Reprise but does help explain the old school punk ethic that many of the characters adhere to. There’s a great scene in which the friends gather outside a window to watch one of their number host a dinner party – a fate worse than death, that leads directly to them commandeering the nearest party.
Last year we were lucky enough to catch Dark Horse at the LFF and have been banging on about it ever since. Reprise has a similar feeling in that with only two screenings it may well fall through the cracks if not given a wider release later. As with the Danish film from LFF 49 that would be a crime as Reprise is definitely one of the best films Londonist has had the pleasure to watch this year.
Reprise plays on October 23rd and 24th. Try and see it.