It is rare for movies to be cinematically stunning, feature characters who inspire empathy and to include the right balance of creative narrative and believability. Norwegian director Joachim Trier acheives just that in “Reprise.” The film tells a riveting story of two lifelong friends living in Oslo, both in their early twenties: Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) and Erik (Espen Klouman Hoiner).  It opens as together they nervously approach a mailbox to send in their first novels to be considered for publication. The film constructs possible futures for the two friends of critical attention and literary notoriety.  

Reality is not as quick or as kind to the two, however. Philip’s novel is accepted for publication and while he meets early success he also suffers a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized. Erik, meanwhile, revises his rejected novel, which is later published. The majority of the film focuses on the relationship between the two friends; Erik is still chasing his literary dreams while Phillip tries to pick up his life and his love affair with the beguiling Kari (Viktoria Winge).  It touches on themes familiar to those in their twenties who are hungry with ambition: reconciling the dreams of teenaged years with life’s realities, finding and keeping love, trying to become, or surpass, their role models.

Trier deftly tips his hat to French New Wave directors, and the film even takes place partly in Paris. He also draws parallels to English punk band Joy Division, whose iconic singer Ian Curtis committed suicide at age.  While viewers could view Phillip as walking the same path as Curtis as a young, troubled artist, instead he takes a different road as he slowly confronts, but does not fully let go of, his demons.

Reprise is a refreshing film.  It has just enough dramatic tension to keep viewers engaged without taking itself too seriously.  What emerges is a sensitive, if not always flattering, portrait of a group of driven young men surprised where life is taking them.  With beautiful film making, a catchy punk laced soundtrack, and an excellent review from the New York Times, “Reprise” is certain to become one of the best foreign films of the year.

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