Anders Danielsen Lie, Espen Klouman-Hoiner, Viktoria Winge, Silje Hagen
Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt
It would seem that 23-year-old friends Erik (Espen Klouman-Hoiner) and Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie), the subjects at the center of Joachim Trier's first feature-length film, aren't much more than immature, spoiled rich kids ill-equipped to handle the very life they profess to be chasing.
We are introduced to the two aspiring writers as they simultaneously mail off their first manuscripts at a mailbox in Oslo, Norway while a voice-over narration takes us through the potential results.
Reality doesn't quite match fantasy, however, and it is revealed rather quickly that Phillip's book gets published and gains a degree of notoriety while Erik's manuscript is rejected. In a reversal of fortunes, however, Phillip can't quite handle his sudden burst of fame and ends up in a mental hospital after what is deemed an obsessive relationship with Kari (Viktoria Winge) while Phillip seems to peacefully co-exist surrounded by his falsely machismo friends and his girlfriend, Lillian (Silje Hagen), whom he inexplicably hides away from his friends.
"Reprise" works best as an intimate film about growing into adulthood, relationships and the finding of one's own identity. It is considerably less effective when Trier broadens the film's horizons and focuses on the rather generic group of friends, the majority of whom are boorish and uninteresting.
While Erik and Phillip themselves aren't particularly interesting, one gets the sense that this is part of the point. Neither of the two young men has a clue who they really are, a fact pointed out by Phillip halfway through the film when he reaches the realization that he hasn't done much more than written down someone else's ideas.
Despite this lack of character definition, there's something infinitely interesting about the two young men and the ways in which they survive their worlds, their relationships and their own personal demons.
It is the relationship between Phillip and Kari that gives "Reprise" its emotional core, mostly owing to Viktoria Winge's quietly powerful performance as a young woman trying to hold onto her own identity while helping Phillip rediscover his, as well.
The friendship between Phillip and Erik recalls that of Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine in "Birdy," a friendship that never seems particularly grounded yet possesses remarkable depth and loyalty.
Trier, a respected short film director, has a remarkable sense of style but occasionally falls victim to first-time director mistakes such as excessive use of voice-over narration, tossing in too many plot points and, perhaps most irritatingly, incorporating character quirks that distract from rather than enhance the story such as Phillip's unnecessarily silly countdown that seems to have an emotional significance but feels more like a gimmick the way it plays out.
Both lead actors do a nice job in the film, though it is Winge who gives the film's stand-out performance. From an early scene where Phillip is struck by a car to a remarkably vulnerable scene where she and Phillip make love after during their second visit to Paris, Winge's words, facial expressions and entire body language are simple yet shattering.
Jakob Ihre's natural lensing beautifully captures both Oslo and Paris, while Ola Flottum's musical score companions the film quite nicely. Tech credits are generally solid, though those unaccustomed to subtitles will be distracted by the white subtitles that often are difficult to decipher over the light background.
A promising feature-length debut from Norwegian director Joachim Trier, "Reprise" captures nicely the often awkward journey from youth to adulthood in a way not often seen in American cinema.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic