Thursday, March 11, 2010

Archive: 'Reprise'

Movie Review
Reprise (2008)

Two 23-year-old lifelong friends, Erik (Espen Klouman Hoiner) and Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie), step up to a mailbox simultaneously holding each of their own manuscripts of their first novels. An omniscient narrator enters and tells of an ideal future possibility for these two aspiring authors. None of that happens, and we arrive back at the mailbox and watch as the manuscripts get placed inside and witness what actual futures are in store for these two friends. Joachim Trier's "Reprise," which won the best picture prize in Norway, is an effective debut feature and a keen observation on the detrimental effects of fame and shattered expectations.

At first only Phillip's book gets published, but this sudden fame goes to his head. He ends up having a mental breakdown that lands him in the hospital. This, however, doesn't discourage Erik from attempting again to get himself published, and he pitches another novel. The movie plays with time and uses things like the possibilities the future holds and projects itself forward into that future and back into the past to further flesh out its characters. Unrealized potential plays a major role here as both Erik and Phillip face what might have been, could have been, should have been, and never actually was or ever is.

Phillip later appears with scars on his face. His breakdown, we discover, was caused by his obsession with his girlfriend, Kari (Viktoria Winge), musing over her saying that they are destined for each other. He arrives back at his apartment to find that pictures have been taken down of her, and against his friend's and mother's wishes, he pursues her again. Erik has his own attachment, too, Lillian (Silje Hagen), but the only person he truly longs for is his literary hero, Sten Egil Dahl, a reclusive author. Just when Erik thought he wanted success, his novel "Prosopopeia," which he eventually gets published, becomes known through an embarrassingly awful TV interview discussing its release.

There's a loving innocence to Kari as she cares for Phillip while fully knowing that his emotional instability is overbearing. They take a trip from where they live in Olso to Paris to relive the days when they were together. While trying to replicate their experiences exactly, Phillip's obsessive behavior shines through again, and things don't go as planned. The relationship he has with Kari, though, is equally as fragile and complicated as the one he has with Erik. Phillip is asked by Erik if he's still writing, but he's not anymore. It's hard enough when two friends are aspiring for one thing, but then it's even harder when one actually succeeds at it and then has a big price to pay for it. During one scene, Erik is going to visit Phillip in the hospital. He sees Phillip through the glass sitting looking disgruntled and disheveled, and after a moment's pause, he realizes he can't bring himself to even go inside.

In "Reprise," nothing goes as planned for the two main characters. It's a film that is casually witty at times, but more so, it acts as a complex exploration into the agonies of finding purpose. The movie's final scene holds a peculiar happy ending, which actually may or may not be yet another extended future prediction. And so, we're left hanging, which adds a tinge of poignant sadness. The stream of consciousness style of storytelling gives the feel of youthful energy. We're left to observe a defining moment in life, a ripe age where one's ultimate goal is to have that sense of identity and definition.

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